Saturday, August 19, 2023

2023.08.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 28:11–31

Read Acts 28:11–31

Questions from the Scripture text: How long had they been on Malta (Acts 28:11)? In what did they sail? Where were they three days (Acts 28:12)? Then where and where (Acts 28:13)? What did they find in Puteoli (v14Acts 28:14)? What were they invited to do? Then toward where did they go (on foot)? Who came to them from Rome (Acts 28:15)? How far did they come? What effect did these believers from the church at Rome have upon Paul? When they finally arrived, what special treatment did the centurion give Paul (Acts 28:16)? How long did Paul take to settle in (Acts 28:17)? Whom did he then call? What does he call them? What does he tell them about his charges? And the Romans’ conclusion (Acts 28:18)? How did he explain the appeal to Caesar (Acts 28:19)? What is he careful to note? What does he explain to them as the reason for calling them (Acts 28:20)? But what do they report (Acts 28:21)? Then for what do they ask (Acts 28:22)? What do they appoint for him (Acts 28:23)? Who comes on that day? What does he explain and solemnly witness to them? What, especially, does he seek to persuade them? With what results (Acts 28:24)? Whose speaking does Paul employ as a parting word (Acts 28:25)? What does he say, with respect to those who did not believe (Acts 28:26-27)? What has been sent to whom, and how will they respond (Acts 28:28)? What do the Jews do when they depart (Acts 28:29)? How much time is covered in Acts 28:30? Where is Paul dwelling? Whom is he receiving? And what does he preach to them (Acts 28:31)? And what does he teach them? With what demeanor? And what hindrance? 

What promise does the book of Acts emphasize that God has kept? Acts 28:11–31 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-one verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the conclusion to the book of Acts demonstrates that God has kept His promise to send the gospel to the nations. 

Brethren everywhere. The trip to Rome is lined with brethren. They land at the port of Puteoli (Acts 28:13, 120 miles from Rome), and what do they find there? Brethren! Indeed, Brethren who delay them seven days in order to enjoy showing them hospitality (Acts 28:14). They make it 2/3 of the way from Puteoli to Rome, and brethren meet them at the Appii Forum. Another ten miles, and brethren meet them at the Three Inns. The implication in Acts 28:15 is that brethren keep coming out to meet them. The closer they get to Rome, the more brethren. Jesus has kept His promise to get him to Rome. And Jesus has been keeping His promise to build His church. So Paul thanked God and took courage (verse 15).

Dear reader, I hope you see your brethren in the Lord as the fruit of His faithfulness. They are kept promises from Him! Indeed, He is continually fulfilling in our lives things that He has promised to do. So let us continually give Him thanks and continually take courage.

Liberty for the gospel. Paul’s liberty for the gospel is a theme throughout the text. He is the only prisoner who is not handed over to the captain of the guard. The last four months together have left an impression upon the centurion, as must have the continual greeting parties coming from Rome. However He did it, the Lord put it in the centurion’s heart to live in his own rented house (Acts 28:30), with just a soldier guarding him (Acts 28:16). But the point of this is that the Lord gave him this liberty for the purpose of preaching the kingdom and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:31).

There are many sorts of liberty that we may have. I write in the USA in 2023, and I have a tremendous amount of liberty. As a pastor, shall I not use it to preach the kingdom of God and teach the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ? And as a Christian, shall you not use it to serve God as King and learn and follow all the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ? 

God keeps His promises. Paul is keenly aware that “for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain” (Acts 28:20). So, he calls the Jewish leaders to himself (Acts 28:17), even though we know that there is already a church established at Rome. His introduction sparks their interest, and they appoint a day upon which his rental home gets filled with Jews. He persuades about Christ from their whole Bible, and some refuse to believe (Acts 28:24), enough that after they leave they have a great dispute among themselves (Acts 28:29). 

But what does Paul see? Paul sees the Lord keeping His Word. This was what the Lord had said in Isaiah 6:9–10. In the same prophecy, the Holy Spirit had emphasized that the salvation of the Servant would go to the Gentiles (cf. Isaiah 42:1–9; Isaiah 49:5–6). Paul tells them so (Acts 28:29). God keeps His promises.

The Lord is with him always. He has brought him to the center of “all the nations.” For two years, the Lord brings him those whom He is making into disciples. And confidently, unhinderedly, Paul teaches them all things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ. The Great Commission is being fulfilled by the authority that Jesus has in heaven and on earth. Surely He is with us always. He keeps His promises.

I don’t know what the current details of your life are, dear reader. But I do know that the Lord is keeping His promises. And I know that He is doing so especially with regard to gathering in His elect and building them up into Himself. Trust and worship and serve Him!

How long has Jesus been keeping His promise to build His church? How sure are you that He will continue to do so? How does this give you confidence to serve Him? To speak for Him?

Sample prayer:  Lord, for two thousand years, You have kept Your promise to build Your church. You kept that promise until You proclaimed peace to us, who had been very far off indeed. We thank You and praise You, Who are still keeping Your promises, and Who are still surely with us always, even to the end of the age. Grant that we would have confidence in You to trust You and worship You and serve You, we ask in Your own Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the LORD” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power” 

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