Summary: Here at the end of the book of Acts, we find Paul under house arrest, but still acting as a servant. What are the characteristics of such a servant?
Passage: Acts 28:17-31
Intro: I heard on the radio the other day that Acts is not a book of theology, but rather a book of history.
1. I agree to a point. It is the record of the early church and what they did.
2. but at the same time, it is a record of the works of God, and so we can certainly take theological truth from this book.
3. much of the OT is also historical record, but we see God at work with man, and learn about God from it.
4. in these last few verses, Paul is making the final and perhaps painful transition from Jewish ministry to Gentile.
5. and he is doing so because God has made it clear.
6. Paul is a servant of God, as we are.
7. and as a servant, he goes where God is taking him.
8. Paul may have had a strategy, but ultimately it is God’s purpose that His servants fulfill.
9. Leader that he was, celebrity that he was, Paul maintained a servant’s attitude. What did it look like?
I. He Was Compelled by Love
1. the very best work of the church is that which is compelled by love.
2. hospitals, orphanages, clinics, all sorts of ministries fueled by the love of God.
Il) why does our church send $ every month to missionaries who minister far away to people we might never meet? Love!
3. we have found in Scripture that God is a giver, compelled by love to act with love towards His enemies.
PP John 3:16
4. so it is no surprise that Paul, in chains at the instigation of the Jews,
would quickly send for the Jews so he could share the gospel with them.
5. you’d think he’d had enough of them by this time!
PP Romans 9:1-4a
6. and so here he is, engaging them all day long in enthusiastic ministry!
7. my contention that they did not know that much about him, though they could have been lying.
8. but they listened, and some believed, but most did not.
9. and so at the end, Paul used the “big stick.”
10. quoted from Isaiah and promised to go to the Gentiles. Why?
11. he understood how God’s love for the Jews would now be demonstrated.
12. it sounds like Paul is writing them off in Acts 28, but actually he is compelled by love to encourage them to open their eyes and ears!
13. each of us have people in our lives that we love, but who remain outside the family of God.
14. God’s servants continue to proclaim God’s wonderful truth motivated by love.
15. when we love others, we reflect the core character of God.
II. He Recognized the Terrible Power of Unbelief
1. we tend to have a list of sins; from the worst to the not-so-bad.
2. all of those sins can be forgiven, and history is full of the stories of people who were mired in that lifestyle, and were saved out of it.
3. but the worst sin, the root sin, the unforgivable sin, is persistent unbelief in the face of the evidence God provides.
PP Mark 3:28-29
4. my friends, the conviction in my heart is becoming overwhelming at this point.
5. throughout Scripture this truth is clear: Our infinitely righteous God is satisfying Himself that the truth has been made abundantly clear, and will continue to be so.
6. in v27, God lays the blame for the refusal to hear and see squarely on the shoulders of mankind.
7. “they hardly hear, they have closed their eyes.”
8. God is perfectly righteous, and if His revelation was flawed, He would say so.
9. and man’s response to this gracious sending, this crystal-clear revelation?
10. with fingers in their ears and blindfolds tied on, unbelievers nailed Him to the cross.
11. brothers and sisters, I wonder if the church is putting it’s time and energy and resources into the wrong part of the war.
12. we fight against the sins of the flesh in the unbelievers, seeking to convince the homosexual to be straight and the drunk to be sober.
13. but if they remain mired in unbelief, their life here might be more pleasant, and we might be more comfortable, but they will still suffer the righteous wrath of God.
14. the servant of God recognizes that the real enemy is unbelief, and continuously proclaims God’s truth in his life and with his words.
15. and becomes in the process another part of the clear communication of God’s truth.
III. He Believed That the Gospel Cannot be Stopped.
1. stymied by the unbelief of the Jews, Paul carried on.
2. Rome was where God had placed him, and each day he had an evangelistic prospect chained to his arm.