Summary: This sermon explains how spiritual gifts are tied to the resurrection and how we therefore should respond to them.

The Power of Believing

Acts 28:1-10; Mark 16:9-20

September 29, 2002


A. [J. David Hoke, Pastor of New Horizons Community Church, in Vorhees, N.J.]

The Age of Enlightenment brought us to a place where we greatly esteem reason and intellect.

Logic is important to us.

And we like to consider ourselves rational people.

Unfortunately, rationalism has given way to skepticism in so many.

It has become hard for some to put faith in anything or anyone.

Institutions have promised so much, and they have let us down.

We’ve had faith in government and government has let us down.

We’ve trusted people, and people have let us down.

It’s easy not to believe any more. “I’ll believe it when I see it," you may say.

"Seeing is believing," goes the old adage.

But it may be too late when you discover that in some things believing must come before seeing.

"Believing is seeing," becomes the new reality for the one who would enter the spiritual dimension of faith.

Jesus’ resurrection is one event in which both the elements of seeing and believing come together.

His resurrection was verified by the eyewitness testimony of hundreds in His day.

But now, we believe it by faith.

It is faith, which has a foundation in fact, to be sure.

But it is faith, nonetheless.

The Scripture says, "We walk by faith and not by sight."

It is really only by faith that our blind eyes can be opened so that we can truly see.

B. Today in Acts 28, I want to explore another facet of the link between the resurrection and faith.

I. Acts 28:1-10

A. Snakes

Acts 28:1-6 (NIV), Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live." 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

1. This is an interesting story that Luke tells about their time on the island of Malta.

2. Paul is under arrest and they are sailing to Rome.

3. They had encountered a terrible storm and were actually shipwrecked on Malta.

4. Luke says that once they were safely on shore, they found out they were on the island of Malta.

5. Luke says the islanders were unusually kind to them.

6. They were building a fire and Paul was helping.

7. Paul picked up a pile of sticks and there was a viper in it.

8. Paul threw the pile of wood on the fire and of course the snake didn’t take to kindly to the fire.

9. The snake hightailed it back out of the fire and latched on to Paul’s hand.

10. The islanders saw this and superstitiously responded saying that Paul must be a murderer because even though he had escaped the storm at sea some god of justice was not going to allow him to live.

11. They were convinced that Paul would not escape death this time.

12. But Paul shook the snake back off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.

13. Even though the people expected to see him swell up and suddenly fall dead, nothing unusual happened to him.

14. After waiting a long time and seeing that nothing happened to Paul even though a snake had bitten him, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.

B. Healings

Acts 28:7-10 (NIV), There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.

1. Now Luke says that in addition to the snakes, there were also healings.

2. There was a politician on the island named Publius whose father had fallen sick with fever and dysentery.

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