Summary: How can we move forward for the Lord? 1. Be faithful to fulfill our responsibility (vs. 1-2). 2. Take advantage of every opportunity (vs. 1-3). 3. Fully trust in God's sovereignty (vs. 3-8).
Moving Forward for the Lord
The Book of Acts - Part 88
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 28, 2015
*When I started looking at tonight's Scripture, I thought back to the theme verse for our "Fun Run" VBS. It was 2 Timothy 4:7, where Paul said: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
*Ever since Paul had gotten saved back in Acts 9, he had been running the race for the Lord Jesus Christ, but in the last few chapters, Paul was sort of running in place.
*Yes, he was still running for the Lord, but for two years Paul had been a prisoner of Rome. Paul was a prisoner, even though he had done absolutely nothing wrong. And Paul was forced to appeal to Caesar, because it was the only way to avoid being sent back to almost certain death in Jerusalem.
*Now in Acts 27 the appeals process got underway. Paul was on the move again. And this Scripture shows us how to move forward for the Lord.
1. FIRST: WE HAVE TO BE FAITHFUL TO OUR RESPONSIBILITY.
*God wants us to be faithful to fulfill whatever responsibilities He assigns to us. Paul's companions on this journey are a great example for us today. Remember that Paul was not alone when the ship pulled out for Rome.
*Verses 1-2 tell us that Paul was accompanied by some very good friends, and we can identify two of them by name: Doctor Luke who wrote these words in the Book of Acts, and Aristarchus who had come with Paul to deliver the love offering to the Jerusalem church.
*Listen to Luke's words again in vs. 1-2:
1. And when it was decided that WE should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment.
2. So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us.
*Using the words "we" and "us" in these verses, this is the first time Luke has referred to himself since Paul and the mission team got to Jerusalem back in Acts 21. Now, over two years have gone by. What has Luke been doing all of that time?
*John Phillips explained that "we can be sure that during Paul's two-year detention at Caesarea his 'beloved physician' Luke was not far away. But Luke modestly kept himself from view." I am sure that Luke was following the leadership of the Holy Spirit when he left himself out of the story for so long. And I am sure of that, because all of these words were inspired by God. (1)
*But both Luke and Aristarchus give us good examples of how we should meet our responsibilities as Christians and friends: We should stand by each other, both in the good times and in the bad.
*We may not always be visible, but we should always be available to help however we can. And we must be willing to walk down the hard road with the people God has put in our care. We must be willing to sacrifice our own comfort and self-interest for other people. May God help us to do it!
*John Phillips wrote that some scholars think Paul's two friends might have gone onboard the ship as Paul's slaves. That would have greatly enhanced Paul's image in the eyes of the centurion. (1)
*There is no way to know for sure if that theory is true, but we do know of other Christians who made that kind of sacrifice. In the 1700s, two young Moravian missionaries made a sacrifice like that. Leonard Dober was a potter, and David Nitschman was a carpenter. They were both in their early twenties, when they heard about an island in the West Indies where an atheist slave owner had over 2,000 slaves.
*The slave owner had declared that no preacher would be allowed to stay on the island or come and talk about God. So Leonard and David developed a plan to take the gospel to that island: They would sell themselves as slaves to that atheist!
*On October 8, 1732, the other Moravians came to the pier in Hamburg to say goodbye to those two men. It was a permanent goodbye, because Leonard and David had sold themselves into a lifetime slavery to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
*Families were on shore weeping, because they knew they would never see them again in this world. And as the ship sailed away, the people on shore heard the young men shout: "May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering." (2)