Departure & Arrival
By Bobby Blakey on April 24, 2022
Departure & Arrival
By Bobby Blakey on April 24, 2022
I want to thank all of you who take listening to these sermons very seriously. You have your Bible. Anybody got your Bible here tonight? You're ready to take notes. You're ready to pay attention. God bless you beautiful souls, right? I got an email from one of you – someone who's really listening to these sermons, and the email was basically, “Hey, what's up with Acts 28?” Was their big question. I don't know if everybody realized what happened. But we wanted to start on Palm Sunday with Jesus as the Son of David, the Christ. We wanted to preach on Easter Sunday the resurrection of Jesus, our Lord. And so, we went straight from Acts 27 to Romans chapter 1. Did anybody notice that? Well, I got an email about it. And it was one of the best emails I've received. And this is what the person said, they said, it feels like after studying all of Acts, we skip the end of the book! Maybe a Monday night study on 28, just to finish it out? But God bless this person, you know what I mean? And then they said this: “Thank you for all the sound teachings, I have never been so excited to study God's word.” That's exactly how I feel. And I'm guessing that's how some of you feel here tonight. I tell you, I love studying the Bible with all of you, I love opening up together. I have bad dreams about walking up here, not being prepared, not knowing what to say. Okay, so we are definitely going to ask you right now, will you please open your Bible to Acts chapter 28, because we're not skipping over it. And actually, if you go to Acts 28 here tonight, we are going to get to Rome. And so, the intersection of the narrative of Acts, and the intense teaching of the book of Romans, and how we're going from one to the other. While they both have the same idea at the beginning of Romans, or at the end of Acts, Paul wants to get to Rome. And tonight is the night that he finally arrives at his destination. And so I'm very excited to share with you Acts 28:1-16. And I do pray that you will take this seriously. In fact, let me pray for us as we get into God's Word together.
Father in heaven, I thank you so much for those of us who are loving your word more than we ever have before. And Father, I pray that you would put on my heart your word, that I would get better at preaching, that people would be able to see the progress in the preaching. And I pray for everybody here that you will put it on their hearts, that they want to get better at hearing, that they want to really hear not from me, but from you, and what you're saying. And Father, we ask that this very night you would speak to us with the full power of your Holy Spirit with the conviction, and that would cut straight to our souls, that our hearts tonight would burn when we hear from you your very word. And so, we ask God that we would experience tonight the revival that comes from the study of your scriptures, and we pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
Please stand for the public reading of Scripture. I'm going to read for us Acts 28:1-16. In fact, if you're watching this outside, if you're online tonight with us, will you please stand up out of respect for God's word. Please follow along as I read Paul is getting to Rome… verse one:
“After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4 When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.’ He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god. Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed. After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead. Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.”
That's the reading of God's word. Please go ahead and have your seat. And so, if you've been here with us at the church, and I know we have some new folks joining us here tonight; we are so glad you're here, we want to welcome you. But if you've been here, you know that we have been on a mission from God to go to Rome all the way since Acts 19:21. In fact, I just want to do a real review here with you. So go back to Acts 19:21. And this has been a unique study, in the book of Acts, I don't know if you already were familiar with how Paul here resolved in the Spirit that he was going to go to Jerusalem, and then to Rome. Look at it with me in Acts 19:21. And I really believe this verse kicks off the fourth section, the fourth quarter of the book of Acts, when it says, “Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome.’” So, he gets this resolve in the spirit; the spirit gives him God's will for his life, God's perfect plan of obedience, say the good works that God prepares for us beforehand to walk in. Well, for Paul, it was Jerusalem, and then Rome. Now I've heard in past, teaching that I've heard about the book of Acts… I've heard this referred to as the fourth missionary journey of the apostle Paul, but really, as we've been studying it, it's not like one of his missionary journeys where every town he goes to, he preaches the gospel, and souls gets saved, a church gets planted. No, this is more of a personal mission that he has, to bear witness to the name of Jesus in the city of Jerusalem, and then in Rome. And so, we have seen him and beyond this quest, and every possible obstacle, it seems, has come against him. And I put them there on the handout.
So, if you've got your bulletin, if you could pull that handout out, that's in the middle there. If you want to take notes on it, you can, but I put a little review of all the obstacles, once he resolved in the spirit, I'm going to Jerusalem, then I'm going to get to Rome. Wow. We saw so many challenges come against him. So many trials and tribulations, the wind was blowing against him in the wrong way. And, and he decided that he was not going to listen to the wind, but he was going to listen to the Word of God. And he overcame every obstacle, first of all his friends, and even some of his co-ministers warned him, don't go to Jerusalem, and you're going to get arrested, you're going to suffer, it is not going to go well for you. He went anyways. When he got to Jerusalem, and they mobbed him in the temple, the Jews were attacking him, seeking to kill him. And the Romans arrested him. So, we saw Wow, he went to Jerusalem, it did not go well. But then go over to Acts 23:11 and look at what Jesus said to him. After all of the trouble that he gets to in Jerusalem, the Jews are really trying to kill him, the Romans, they're not sure what to do with him. They're going to whip him but he's a Roman citizen. There's all kinds of drama. And Jesus said in Acts 23:11, “The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.’” So hey, phase one complete. What do you mean phase one complete? They just mobbed me and tried to kill me. They just arrested me, and they don't know what to do with me. I'm now a prisoner. Exactly. That was step one. Now we're going to Rome and so he gets that word from Jesus. And then we find out … if you're looking at the handout there. Maybe you remember that over 40 Jews made a plot that they're not going to eat or drink until they have killed him, and they tried to get this trap to set up a meeting where they would kill him on the way, and the Romans rescued him and brought him to Caesarea. That seems really great. Now he's in Caesarea, away from Jerusalem. But then the Roman governor left him there in Caesarea in prison for two years. Anybody remember when we talked about that? A two-year delay before he really gets going to Rome. So, he's having death threats, he's having long delays. And then story … a chapter that really spoke to a lot of people was when he went through the shipwreck, and 276 souls on board, they've lost all hope. There's no way we can be saved. And every single one of those souls washed up on this island here in Acts 20.
So, you’ve got to understand that when God has a will for you to do, there may be great opposition, but nothing can stop God from doing His will in your life. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that? Okay. We have seen that we might be sailing into stormy seas, with severe winds and huge waves. But we are a ship in a bottle. And God is going to get every single one of us exactly where he wants us to be in this life. And we may not be going to Rome, but every single one of us is making it home to be with Jesus Christ. All of us who have repented of our sins, and believed in the Gospel of Jesus, we will all be saved. And now if you're with me, go to Acts 27:24, because he had an angel show up on the ship, in the midst of all of them being tossed to and fro by the waves and the howling of the wind, the angel said in Acts 27:24, again reaffirming the promise of the Word of God. “And he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul, you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.” Not only is God going to save your life in the midst of this storm, but He’s also going to save every single person on this boat, even though they all thought they were dead men at that point. And God did what he said. And he reaffirmed: you are going to stand before Caesar in Rome.
And so, let's get this down. If you're taking notes for acts 28:1-10: We can see God's promise to Paul for Rome. God has promised to Paul that he is going to get to Rome. And that has been a theme since Acts 19:21. And this is now the last obstacle, the last trial, the last thing between him and Rome is a viper. And I don't know about you, but I do not like snakes. Can I get an Amen from anybody? All right. I haven't liked him since Genesis 3. We'll just put it like that. All right? I don't like snakes one bit. I don't like the slithering. I don't like the hissing, I don't like the idea of a little rattling going on, I don't like the idea of a couple of fangs coming out. There is nothing about it. Some people think the constrictors are cute, and they want to have a constrictor at their house. Well, you’ve got perfect freedom to do whatever you want with those constrictors, but they are trying to squeeze the life out of you. I'll tell you right now, okay. I'm not a snake fan. But here we go. Here we get on this island and the people … look at verse 2. The people show us unusual kindness. The Greek word there is philanthropos. They're showing philanthropy, they're showing love to their fellowman that they get a very hospitable response from the people here on the island of Malta. They make a fire for them. Hey, these guys just got washed up. They barely survived a shipwreck. Let's get a fire that it's raining, they're cold. Let's get them warm. And Paul, you can see the servant of Jesus Christ that He is there, getting a fire going and Paul immediately gets to the business of firewood, and he's got a bundle of sticks that he's going to put on that fire to stoke the flame. And then there it is, in verse 3, a viper comes out, right? I don't know if you've read about certain snakes that if they if they strike, I mean you've got seconds to live if you if you don't get that anti venom within a certain amount of time, and you're done. And clearly, that is the reputation of this snake here on this island that Oh, wow, that guy just got bit by that snake. Oh man. Good thing that snake got thrown into the fire. We don't want … that snake is bad news. Let's just sit here and watch. That guy is about to die any minute, right? I mean, that's what they all think. They're just waiting for him to … Well, it says, they're waiting for him to swell up, or they're waiting for him to fall down dead in verse 6. And they wait a long time. You should be dead by now. I can't believe this guy's lived this long. And then they realize, Oh, this guy is not going to die. So, they kind of overcorrect. Oh, he must be a God, right? But you can see that they are expecting him to die from this snake bite. And the key theme that we saw in chapter 27 continues in chapter 28. Look at verse 1, the first phrase after we were brought safely through after God saved us through the storm, through the shipwreck. And then here in verse 4, even the people understand that it's a work of God, that everybody survived that shipwreck. Even the people on the island can see that. And they're like, Oh, this guy must be a murderer, though he has escaped from the sea. Or you could translate that I would prefer to translate it “though he has been saved from the sea.” Not like he just escaped the sea, but something happened to him where he got rescued or saved from the sea. Well, now he's going to die. Justice! Allah has not allowed him to live.
Now, the truth is that they were right that Paul was a murderer. And it's important for all of us, because some of us have been going through the book of Acts for so long. It's important for us to remember that Paul was originally introduced to us as the villain of the book of Acts, that he oversaw the first murder of one of God's people. He killed the first witness, the first martyr of the witness that was killed Steven, when he was stoned, they laid their garments down at the feet of a young man named Saul, who's now, Paul. But the good news of Paul's life is that when you meet Jesus Christ, you can be forgiven of all your sin, and you can have a brand-new life. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that? And so, this guy, he does deserve to die. But God has said that he's going to Rome, and he's not dying by snakebite on the island of Malta. And so not only did God save him from the over 40 Jews, or from the Roman prison, or from being lost at sea, but God saves him – miraculously, it seems, from what should have been a lethal bite from this snake, and it has all the people there in tension. And so, this is some kind of miraculous healing that Paul doesn't die here. And it's continuing our theme, that our God is a God who saves. And we don't just mean specifically, that moment that we get saved from our sins, but our God is by his character, by who he is, He is a savior. He is a mighty God. He is here in our midst tonight. And one thing that our God is able to do, has the power to do, wants to do, loves to do, in fact, the whole angels rejoice when he does it. We have a mighty God who saves. And he's continued to save Paul through all of these trials. And including the snakebite that we read about here tonight.
So, the thing that we need to understand about salvation, and I'm not sure everybody here understands this, let's get this down for point number one is that: Once God saves you, he doesn't stop saving you. Once God saves you, and you are going to continue to experience His saving power working in your life, until He gets you all the way in His presence in His glory, until you experience the salvation that's ready to be revealed in Christ in the last time. Your God, once he starts his good work of saving you, you better believe he is going to complete that good work of saving you. Okay? This is so important. And I'm not sure I hear a lot of people talk about salvation. Like I got saved in the past. listen to how people talk these days, a lot of people are acting like yeah, God saved me. And it's all like, it's all God and -ed, like past tense, like it was all a while ago that God saved me. And sometimes people are living right now. They're saying I got saved in the past and I hope I go to heaven when I die. But they live like they have no power right now. They live like living the Christian life right now, it's just up to them, and it's so hard. How could they possibly do it? They act like, Well, I don't know. Am I going to even make it all the way to the end? And maybe I'm going to fall away. Let me just make this very clear, that everyone who departs, every plane that takes off, everyone that God does a work in your heart, and He gives you a new heart and He puts His Spirit in you. Every single one of us that has a departure in Jesus Christ, we will all have an arrival in Jesus Christ. God doesn't lose one of his people mid-flight, every single one of us is going to get to our heavenly destination, because the work of salvation – Yes, it happens at a point of justification. But then God continues that work, to renew you into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, and everyone whom God justifies, He will also glorify and make them like His Son, Jesus. And so, if you have been saved, you are still believing the working out of being saved. And you know fullness of your salvation, really seeing Jesus face to face, really getting that resurrection body, really having absolutely no sin, no temptation rising up within you, that is still yet to come. And if you have been saved, you are going to get there. I don't care what happens to you in this life. I don't care how hard it gets, I don't care what Satan tries to do, or how the curses of this fallen world show up in your family, and in your personal experience, I promise you that if God has saved you, there is nothing that can stop Him from bringing you into the heavenly glory. You too will be brought safely through snakebites, shipwrecks, whatever may come your way. We’ve got to understand this, because a lot of people they're acting like, Well, God saved me, but now what? Know now that His power is working in you in the presence and glory is your tomorrow. And even if you're suffering now, no amount of suffering can keep the believer in Jesus from being with him forever. That's the way we need to think about, like salvation is, Yes, it happened in the past for some of us, but it's a present reality, and the future. That's what when we are in heaven, we will think going there that was salvation, and not just what we've experienced so far in this life. And I'm concerned that not everybody here in this room tonight, really thinks in that full biblical way about salvation. So, this is what I'm hoping … this has been such an enjoyable study for me to see all of these obstacles try to keep Paul from Jerusalem, trying to keep Paul from Rome. And it doesn't matter what it is. Nothing can stop him.
We have to apply this to our lives. This has to become a way all of us who have been blessed to study the book of Acts, to study God's Word maybe more than we ever have before. If we don't really learn that nothing in this life can stop God from doing his work in my life, then we have been wasting our time here together. This needs to go from something we read that happened to Paul back in the day to something we confidently expect is our future. The rest of our time, however brief it is here on this planet, it will be God doing His work in us and He will get us – we will be brought safely to his heavenly kingdom. So, I've given you some verses in these sermons that hopefully are a review.
Now, if you want to jot them down under point number one, 2 Timothy 4:18 is one where Paul says that he knows God is going to deliver him from every evil and bring him safely into his heavenly kingdom. So, Paul knew he wasn't just getting to Rome, he was going to glory, and he shares that thought with all of us. Even as he was approaching death, he had that great confidence. I've also tried to share 1 Peter 1:5 on multiple occasions, because it says that all of us who have a living hope, all of us who've been born again through the resurrection, and all of us who really have celebrated Easter in our hearts, not as a box on a calendar, but as a real experience in our souls, that we have risen up with Jesus from the dead. We are kept by God's power for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time God saves you and His keeping work sustains you all the way until He brings you home. You should write this one down: Hebrews 7:25. We found out that our high priest, he has the power, he is able to save us to the uttermost and that's pantelia there. That's like all the way to the end, to the fullness, to the completion. He didn't just save you a little bit so you could kind of fight with sin, and given to sin, and be lost your whole life. No, he's started to go to work and your justification, he's going to continue the good work in your sanctification, and he will complete it in your glorification. And hundred percent guaranteed, no one who has ever really departed into a new life with Jesus Christ, No, not one of those souls has not arrived at their destination to be made like Christ.
And so, this is a message that God is speaking to us. And I'm asking you, is this real? Is this becoming real for you in your life? We need to talk about this in our fellowship groups. I'm really praying that this will not be some Bible study that was interesting for a season and then forgotten for the rest of our lives. The next time something bad happens to you the next time, the wind howls, the waves rise, the snake bites. Is your first response going to be, God will get me through this? Or are you going to be tossed to and fro by the waves, like we've been wasting our time on Saturday nights. See this, the point of learning this, the point of studying from all the way 19:21 to 18:15, when Paul joyously gets to go into the city of Rome, why have we studied this together? Because this isn't just about Paul, this is about every single one of us. It's about all of us being on a mission for God, and God has good works he wants you to do, he has something that he wants you to accomplish in this life, and nothing is going to stop you from fulfilling God's will and getting to be with him for all of eternity. And so, what does that look like for you? How are you going to identify, hey, I get that idea of being a ship in a bottle, and the next time something bad happens, I'm not going to be like, Oh, maybe I'm not doing God's will for my life. Or Oh, God clearly wants me to be in greener pastures, or still waters, like clearly God's Will isn't for me to suffer or have bad things happen to me, or have to overcome obstacles, or opponents who are against me. Know exactly God's will be to lead you through all of that and show you his glory through suffering. That's what we've learned. And what does that look like in your life? Who here is going to be mature that when bad things happen to us, we don't act like something's gone wrong? We act like I can trust the Lord in the eye of the storm. I can trust the Lord, when it feels like the venomous snake is hanging from my hand, I can trust the Lord that He will keep me, and no one and nothing can snatch me out of my Father's hand. That's the way that we need to learn how to think. Have we learned that? Are we now thinking that way? Because that's what this snake bite is here to teach us. These people don't understand why Paul didn't swell up and fall down dead. We understand why he didn't do it. Because it was based on what God said, not on the venomous snake. And we need to understand that our future is determined by the word of God, not by what's happening to us in this world. And so, I'm hoping that we will come through this much more mature than we were. When we started this, especially two years ago, when we started through all of the trials that we've been through, we need to learn the lesson. So next time, we see all these trials, that some of us are going through trials right now, we need to have confidence, God's going to keep his promise, God's going to do what he said, I know God saved me and he's not done with me yet. He's going to save me all the way through to the end. Now, one of the fascinating things that happens here, look at verse 7, because we get three months on the island. And we have some miraculous healings that take place here in verses 7-10. Because we've got Publius here, who's the chief man on the island, and he's being very hospitable. So, all the comments here about the people that live on the island called Malta. Notice how Luke is going out of his way to say positive things. Wow, look at their philanthropy, look at their hospitality. Look at how they gave us all that we needed. When we left like, these people were very kind and neighborly to these 276 souls, who just washed up on shore. They treated them very well then. As Publius was treating them well for three days in verse 7, we find out that his dad has got a fever and dysentery. All right, so we find out his dad is sick. And then here's Paul, Paul goes just like he's picking up that firewood. Well, now he's going to visit the sick. So, you can take the servant out of the ocean, but you can't stop the servant from serving here on the island. Through all that he's been through. He still is living in others-oriented mindset here, and after he goes and visits and prays for him, puts his hands on him, and his father is dramatically healed. And then the word spreads. And on the island there, it probably didn't take long for everybody to hear what's going on. And everybody brings whoever is sick, they come with all their diseases, they're cured. And the people, they honor them greatly. The people are so pleased that all the sickness is being banished from the islands. So, what we have here is one miraculous healing that leads to a whole series of miraculous healings done at the hand of the apostle Paul.
And if you're jotting down notes, you want to put down Luke 4:28-31. One of the reasons that Luke writes about healings through Paul, or Peter in the in the book of Acts is he wants to show us that these apostles were sent by Jesus Christ, and they had all the authority of our Lord. And that meant they had authority over things like demons, and diseases, just like Jesus did. Just like Jesus sent His disciples out with that authority when he would send them out to go and preach the gospel of the kingdom. Well, Luke wants you to know, in the earlier chapters, we saw Peter doing amazing miracles, even resurrection from the dead, and now he wants you to know, Yeah, Paul, he was doing those same kind of miracles, the kind of miracles where someone has that power to just lay their hands on someone, and you see miraculous healing taking place.
Now there are a couple of things we want to understand when it comes to healing in the scripture, and one is, if you're taking notes, you could jot this down: Healing is a powerful work of God. Okay? Healing is a powerful word of God. That's definitely the impression we are given here in this text. That's definitely how these people who don't even seem to know God, that's how they take it here on the island of Malta. So go with me to Luke chapter 4 and let me show you that Jesus did something very similar in the city of Capernaum. Okay, so Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke, he writes the book of Acts. And you'll notice here that He even writes it. The story on Malta and acts 28 is very similar to this fishing village Capernaum in Luke, chapter 4. And I have been to Capernaum where they have rebuilt the synagogue that Jesus taught in, cast out a demon there. And then they went over to Peter's house. Peter, who we know is the fisherman, the disciple, the apostle, the pointy-finger preacher, we saw a guy who does amazing miracles. Where there was a time when he was living in Capernaum, that his mother-in-law was sick. This is Luke 4:38. And we already got the context that he's in Capernaum. And it says that he arose, referring to Jesus here, Luke 4:38, left the synagogue and entered Simon's house, was Simon Peter. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever. Okay. So, this is Peter's mother-in-law. So, I don't know if you ever heard the idea, or the question, was the apostle Peter, was he married? The answer to that question is, well, you don't have a mother-in-law without being married, everybody. So, there's your answer to that question. And his mother-in-law has a high fever, and all and it gets brought to Jesus' attention, verse 39, he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her and immediately she rose, and began to serve them. And that word spread quickly in this small little area of Capernaum, and the other fishing villages there by the Sea of Galilee. And so, when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases, brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many crying, you are the Son of God, but he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ. So, these healings are powerful works of God, and they're definitely getting people's attention. And but I don't want them as we go through Acts 28, they might become for us a distraction. Okay. healings are mighty works of God. And we might be really intrigued because we want to know more about them. Maybe we don't feel like we've experienced them. Maybe we feel like we have. We want to talk more about the healing. So let me just tell you very clearly, being healed isn't going to help you if you don't get saved. Let's just make that very clear. Okay. It's not ultimately our diseases that are the wages of our diseases is death. What's killing every single one of us is not you are naming the particular sickness. What is killing every one of us is our sin. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that?
So, this is something I think in all the excitement that people get about healing, and it's definitely an exciting thing that God does. When people get healed, if their disease is cured, but they still live in their sin, they are still going to die apart from God. So, we got it, we got to be very, very clear about that. In fact, go to what Jesus says in Luke chapter 10, what he ends up saying to Capernaum. There were three fishing villages by the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus did most of his miracles. And what Jesus says to these villages here in Luke 10:13, should be a warning to all of us. These were the three villages where he did most of his teaching, most of his miracles, most of his ministry, by the Sea of Galilee, and happened in Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum. And here's what he says to them. In Luke 10:13, he says, “Woe to you, Chorazin!” And that's not like, whoa, slow down. Whoa, back it up. That's like whoa, as in judgment coming upon you, as in curses coming upon you. “Woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works is done in you, if the miracles, if the healings, if the healing of diseases and the casting out of demons done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes, but it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon. And then for you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. How about that? I don't know if you've ever studied that passage before, but once you go to Israel, which some of us have been able to do, you go to the cities, I'll tell you what they are, to this very day, they are a pile of rocks on the ground is what they are. Nobody lives in any one of those three cities to this day. They rebuilt Capernaum so tourists like us could go there and see the synagogue and see Peter's mother-in-law's house and see how it's close to the Sea of Galilee. But nobody lives there anymore. Because when Jesus pronounced his judgment upon you, you don't come back from that.
So, these people think about it like this, the people who saw most of the miracles, most of the healings, they even heard most of the teachings. If you don't repent, it doesn't matter what you've seen or experienced, because you're still going to die in your sin. And so that's what is fascinating about Acts 28 is, we don't know – did those people on that island get saved? I mean, Paul really cared for those people, those people were really kind to them. But we don't get like the gospel ringing out, we don't get a response of repentance and faith. We don't know what really happened there on the island. What the most important thing though, the thing that matters of first importance in your life is that you get saved from your sins, not just your diseases, not just your trials. Better to be saved from your sins and have endless diseases and trials than to have no diseases and trials and still be in your sins. So that I don't know if everybody here understands that the word most of the healings, casting out of demons and miracles went down, those cities are crumbled. They are rocks on the ground. To this very day, I tell you, every time we go to Chorazin, every time we look at that pile of rocks, every time we read this passage, right here, you feel a heaviness. You realize how bad of a deal sin is and how you need to repent. Everybody would have thought Tyre and Sidon, and everybody Jesus was speaking to, they would have thought Oh, those are the worst cities. I don't know what city comes to your mind when you think of just rampant wickedness and just lawlessness and people rebelling against God and doing whatever they want. It's like no, no, no, no, those cities, if they saw the miracles, they would have repented. See, you saw the healings you heard the teachings and you stuck with your sins. Woe to you. So that's what matters that you get saved from. You could even write down James 5:15 that talks about the prayer of faith where people do get healed. Sometimes when people are sick, they can call the elders of the church. The elders will pray for them. Sometimes the people of the church will pray for them. They will pray with faith and sometimes God will answer our prayers and he will heal people and it is a powerful work of God. What is the point of somebody getting healed, they all eventually end up dying anyways? Do we realize that? I know people who got healed and the point was great, they got healed, now they'll repent, now they'll turn to God. Now they'll come here and join us at church. And they still don't go to church just like they didn't before they got healed.
Well, praise God that they got healed because that was a work that He did. But the point of God giving you life, the point of God healing you from any disease, is God wants to save you from your sin. That's the point. And once he saves you from your sin, it doesn't matter what happens to you, he's going to get you where he wants you to go. Every single one of you if you have departed, if you have taken off in the name of Jesus, if you have been justified by your faith, you've turned from your sin. You've trusted in Jesus, I guarantee you, you are not going to crash your flight, will land safely, you will be brought safely right to where God wants you to be, and nothing can stop it. But I’ve got to say to other people here tonight, I can't tell you how many people have said to me since we started this church in Huntington Beach, people who know that they are not saved. They have not turned from their sin. They have not believed in Jesus. And they're already telling me that they've been in multiple car accidents. They had multiple drug overdoses, they got stabbed, they got in this fight. They had this accident happen, this fire took place. This time they almost drowned and they're like God saved my life multiple times. Probably many people here in this room, you know that you would be dead right now. Because something like a snakebite happened to you, and you should have died. Iit doesn't matter how many times God physically saves your life, it matters that he spiritually saves your soul one time because that lasts forever. And has that happened to you? It's pointless if God keeps saving your physical life, if you don't turn to Him and have a spiritual life.
So, they had a great time on Malta. But we are left scratching our heads and wondering with all of their kindness, and all of his miraculous healings, did these people hear the gospel in their language? Did they repent and believe? Did they get saved? See, we don't know the most important question. The most important thing that happened there, we don't know if it happened or not. But what we are told is that everybody thought Paul should have died. And he's still alive because God said so. And God said, he's getting to Rome. And that's exactly what happens after the three months to last out the winter.
Go back to Acts 28. I hope this moment now has a sense of gravitas as we get to it here in the Scripture. I hope we can all feel as we read this together tonight, Oh, man, when you think about the plot to kill him and the mobs, and when being a prisoner for all these years now, and then the shipwreck and then the snakebite, like what an epic thing it must be to actually be Paul, and to finally arrive at Rome. Like I hope these are no longer just words on a page, but you can feel the meaning to this man. I mean, even it's awesome that we've already been turning over to Romans. And we've already started the book of Romans, because we know that he even wrote a letter to these people, his most famous letter, where he introduced himself and gave a masterclass of his gospel teaching. And his whole letter was like, I want to come to you pray that all survived Jerusalem, pray that I'll be able to come to you like he wrote. I mean, he's even got to feel like when he wrote that letter, like that was something special. Like we know the book of Romans is special. He must have known it was special. Like I wrote these people this letter, I gave him all that I have, I poured out my heart and the whole longing was to go there to see them. And God told me I would, but this happened, and this happened. And I just want to get there. And now finally, he gets there. Can you imagine the joy of his arrival? I don't know if you've ever been on a trip where you were far away from people that you loved. And you wondered even if you were going to get back to those people and the plane landed and the seatbelt came off, and the baggage was claimed, and you've read, and you ran to embrace your loved ones. You get to your destination. I think we so often underestimate the pure rapture, the delight, the joy inexpressible that you are going to experience when you arrive at your destination with Jesus Christ. When you go from long distance to face-to-face with Jesus, when you meet the Lord Jesus in the air, and so you will always be with the Lord when you die and find yourself more alive than you have ever been the entire time you were alive in this body. When you have that moment, I promise you, it will far surpass any experience you have ever had. And for this guy to get into this city, it's like a glimpse of God's promises are true. It is all worth it, it’s all real. I am in Rome, just like God said, just like he put on my heart, just like I longed to get there. Here I am. And it's not just Paul, that is excited. We get the details of their travel. We know they don't have as far to go now from Malta. To get there. Luke, he’s there. He shows us there the route in verses 11 and 12 and 14, and then at the end of verse 14, and so we came to Rome and like the word spreads, and you want to talk about some hubbub, you want to talk about the telephone game, you want to talk about people getting excited about something and spreading the word of mouth. Paul, we didn't even know where he was. We didn't even know what happened to him. Who's even heard from Paul? Where's Paul even been? Paul is coming to Rome and the word starts to spread and the Hey over there at the Forum of Appius. They're hearing about it. They're scooting on over to Rome. Hey, over there at Three Taverns? Oh, yeah, the beacons are lit over there, they all know about it, they get the word. And here they come. Now I read a lot of stuff trying to figure out where is the Forum of Appius? Where are the Three Taverns? What are these places that clearly Luke was expecting the awfulest people at that time to know where they were? And I read various accounts trying to figure out where they were. One thing that was common, and all of these accounts is this is over 20 miles from Rome, at least as some accounts gave it. As much as 50 miles from the Form of Appius, or over 30 miles to Three Taverns. Okay, this is a great distance that these people are coming. Because Paul is here in Rome, our prayers have been answered. See, we've had some joy as believers now of experience in answered prayers. Can you imagine when you get to the day when all of the prayers are answered? I mean, that's what they get here. Like we prayed, and he prayed, and with sometimes it clearly seemed like he was never getting to Rome. And yet, here we are. And we're not talking about 50 miles, 20 miles down the freeway, everybody. We're talking about people saying, I want to go see Paul in Rome. This is something that they realize God has done. And the people begin to gather. And look at the response here that you get. It says in verse 15, “on seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage.” So, I love what's happening here, because clearly, the reason there is hype about Paul coming to Rome is because of the book of Romans. It's not just that God made a promise. It's not just between God and Paul, Paul shared that prayer request with the church in Rome. And clearly, many people knew about that, even people as far as the Forum. And as far as Three Taverns, they all knew about it, and they were all praying for it. And now when it happens, all the people come see, you see. There's this really cool cycle of encouragement that's happening here. Maybe you know, like the downward spiral of evil that takes place where someone does something evil, and someone else responds with evil. And so, then there's another wrong response. And it just spirals sin, turning to sin and this person sins against you. So, you sin against them, or you fall into that sin one more time. And you think, well, since I've done it one more time, I might as well do it another time. And then it just kind of downward spirals from there. See, this is the exact opposite. This is the upward call, he writes a letter that lifts all these people up, then he comes into town, and he makes it there, and all these people gather around and that lifts him up. And the fact that he's lifted up, I bet he's going to start preaching the gospel to these people like he's never preached before, and that's going to lift them up. And then when they respond to his teaching, he's going to be encouraged. And it's just like this upward call of encouragement that happens here in Rome. He wrote them a letter. They heard it, they responded, they prayed. Now they show up. He sees Wow, this is a strong response. Look at all these people coming to greet me. You came from… where you came from? How far? Wow, this is like Paul's funeral but he's alive to experience it. Look at all the people that you've encouraged. They gathered around … look at what says, he thanked God and took courage. So, let's get this down for acts 28:11-16: God's gospel through Paul for Rome. That's what we're finding here, God's gospel through Paul for Rome. Clearly, they had read his letter, they were excited he was coming. And clearly God has promised that you're going to go there, and you're going to bear witness about me, is now happening. And when Paul sees this, he thanks God, and there is this strengthening that takes place. And Paul, there is this courage that fills him, that fills up his soul. And I don't know if you've ever had that when you see a brother or a sister, when you see someone and you know, God's doing a work in their life. And you can just see how they got saved, or they're growing. And you've prayed together for something. And God has answered your prayer. Just the sight sometimes of a fellow Christian, just being in the presence with a brother or sister, and it just gives you strength. It's just like, there's an energy in the room, and you're like, Wow, I love being around these people. That's how it is for Paul come into a room. And he's like, God, this is from you. This is what we were hoping for. This is what we were praying for, and look what you have done, and he thanks God, and He takes courage.
And go over with me to Romans chapter 1 and look at what he wrote before this moment happened. We're going to get back to Romans here, and a couple of weeks after we finish up Acts proper. And we're going to be going through line by line here in Romans, and let me show you where we're going to pick it up. Romans 1:8. And notice that when Paul saw faith in people, when Paul, he was he was preaching the gospel to bring about the obedience of faith, he wanted people to hear the gospel, to believe in the gospel, and respond in the way that they would live a changed life. And when Paul saw that in any group of people at any church, he thanked God for it. And you can just go through so many letters that Paul writes, one of the first things he always says to those people is I thank God for you. That's what he does in Acts 28. That's what he says here in Romans 1:8. Look at what it says, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.”
This was his prayer. This was his longing. This is what he knew would happen if I could come preach the gospel to you, and I could see you and you could hear me. We would all be lifted up, we would all have that upward call of encouragement. It happens in Acts 28:15-16. Everything he says here happens. And we're going to go through this line by line, we're going to look at, we're going to do a deep dive study on how Paul prays for people. He's always praying for other Christians. Are you praying for other Christians, like Paul's praying for other Christians? And what is this mutual encouragement that we can all experience? If you've got the Holy Spirit, and I've got the Holy Spirit, where we can both encourage one another and lift each other up? That's what he's anticipating. And he gets it when he gets there. And we just get a little glimpse of the longing fulfilled, the prayer answered.
Let's get this down for point number two: This is what we want to do here at our church, We want to participate in the upward call of encouragement. We want to participate in the upward call of encouragement, we want to have faith, I want to preach to you with faith. I'm hoping that you'll hear with faith. And we will continue to lift one another up. I'm hoping you'll go to one of the fellowship groups this week and you'll be like, here's what I heard from the word of the Lord. And you'll speak some truth. And that'll encourage your brothers and sisters, and they'll share what they heard from the word and how they're responding. And that'll encourage you and it'll be this upward call of all of us speaking into one another's lives, coming alongside, and addressing one another and teaching one another. And we will all be like Wow, look what God is doing here! As we encourage one another, as our prayers are answered together, as we get to see each other face-to-face. God is doing a work among us. I hope you're participating in that. And if you're not if you come here regularly, but you're not a part of the fellowship, you're not sharing the life of Jesus Christ. You're not experiencing the answered prayers and the mutual encouragement. I'm asking you please come to that Foundation's class tomorrow at one o'clock and let's get you plugged into the life of Jesus. There are some people here that God has done such an amazing work in their lives, if you could really see who they are, if you could see who they used to be, who they are now, and what God is building in them. You would be so encouraged, you would thank God for that. And if you're not experiencing that, if all you're getting out of this church is the preaching, you are really missing out on what God is doing here at this church. In fact, you might be missing out on the best part of what God is doing here at this church. It's what he's doing in people's lives and how people here are sharing that with one another. Yes, it happens through the word going out through the letter of Romans being written. But when you see people responding to the word, see, some of you are missing out on that encouragement, and you don't even know how sweet it could be for your soul to see brothers and sisters being built up in their faith.
When Paul sees it it doesn't matter how many churches he's planted. It doesn't matter how many people he's seen get saved, No, when he gets to Rome, and he sees these people, he thanks God and you know what? Paul takes courage. Go over with me to 1 Corinthians 1 and let's see how he says it here to this church. 1 Corinthians 1:4, he says … it's just the next book over … 1 Corinthians 1:4, oftentimes in his letters, after he would give the greeting, he would move into his point. And he often says this, what he does in Acts 26:15 is often what he writes in his letters. He says in 1 Corinthians 1:4, “I give thanks to my God, always for you, because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.” So, if you know somebody, and you think that God has saved them, they have been turned from their sins, you see the obedience of faith in their life, they're living a new life. They're not who they used to be. I want to ask you right now, how often do you thank God for that person? I don't take God's people for granted. Okay. When God blesses you with brothers and sisters who really feel like a family to you, you should soak up every minute of that. You should realize how blessed you are, you should realize how many people wish they had Christian friends like the ones you’ve got. And you should thank God for those people. Those people did not just show up here at church. Those people were not born that way. Those people did not come off some other churches assembly line like that. No, you meet somebody who's radiating life of Jesus. The only way they got that way is God made them that way. He saved them out of their sins like that. It's not because they went to so and so's church. It's not because they grew up in this denomination; it’s because God has saved them. And you should thank God for what he's done in their lives. And Paul, he's saying, you guys got the grace. You guys know the grace that is in Christ Jesus, verse 5, “that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you.” So you are not lacking in any gift. As you wait for Oh, wait a minute, we're not just talking about salvation like it's in the past tense. Hold up more to come here, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the … what is this, everybody? Oh, that grace that you got? Yeah, that grace is not done yet, everybody. That grace didn't just save you, and now leave you to struggle with sin for the rest of your life. No, that grace is there to sustain you, that grace is now empowering you to say No to temptation, empowering you to obey Jesus Christ. That grace that saved you, it's going to carry you all the way home, that's what it's going to do. Oh, you guys, just wait till he is revealed or the one who's going to sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you think it's awesome to be justified from the penalty of sin, and to have power in your life over sin, wait till you experience being saved from the presence of all sin, including in your own body. Oh, when you stand before Jesus, and you know that you are pure as he is pure, you have not experienced that yet and that is surely coming. Everybody who's departed by faith we will all arrive in perfection. We will all arrive in glory. I understand that not one of us here in this room is perfect not yet. But I promise you everyone here in Christ you will be made perfect. And you will be there when in a robe of white. With no more shame, no more guilt. No more having to be on guard. No more praying, lead me not into temptation. No more, I can't believe I did that one more time. No more seeing the hurt. Look in your loved one’s face as you have disappointed them and let them down. You will now ever experience that again, when you are guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. That's what's coming. Salvation. When God saves you, he, he doesn't stop. He takes you all the way through.
Go to Philippians chapter 1 and look how he says it here. So, notice just the way that Paul speaks about salvation. He affirms the reality of a past declaration of righteousness that these people have been set apart from their sins, they are right with God by faith, the just are living by faith. But he does also talk to them like that salvation has ongoing effects in the present, and that the best of that salvation is still yet to look forward to in the future. Philippians 1:3 is famous for saying this, “I thank my God” – again, Paul can't stop thanking God for people who are responding to the gospel with faith. Are you thanking God for the people that you can see have faith? “I thank my God and all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine,” – I mean, this guy sounds like he's praying all the time. And he sounds like he's praying for people all the time. And always in every prayer of mine, for you all making my prayer with joy, “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” That is the promise. And that's something I can thank God for. You see somebody and you're like, Wow, look what God did in their life. Wow, God, thank you for saving them, Hey, God is not done with that person yet. He is going to complete the good work that he has begun. And on the day of Jesus, do you realize that when Jesus returns, those who are alive will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air? Anybody? Does anybody think flying would be cool, right? Okay. I mean, the experiences that we are yet to have in the presence of our Lord, the best part of that promise that those who are alive will meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will always be with the Lord. That's what's coming. So make sure of that when you pray about salvation. I just think a lot of Christians that I talk to today sound bored about being saved. Just honestly, that's how people talk about it. They talk about it like Been there done that, happened a long time ago. Well, what's going on in the angels’ game right now did show Hey, get a get a big hit, right? I mean, what's going on now with my grandkids, what's going on with my family, what's going on at work, what's going on Twitter, what's going on the stock market, what's going on? It's like so many more things are interesting than the work that God is doing here among us. And I'm telling you, it's not like you got saved, and it's already been there, done that. It's like, you're going to get saved and you ain't been there, you ain't done that. And it's still happening. God is still working it out. He's still completing it in your life right now. And when you get there, Oh, it'll be so much better than Paul getting it wrong. When you get there, and you will see other people and you will look at one another. And we will think to each other, we made it is what we will think. We are here now. And we are with him. Now. This is what all of our prayers were for. This is what all of it was about. This is why we kept opening up that book and taking a look every Saturday and that it was all for this to be with Jesus on the day of our Lord. And the joy that you will experience that day you should be looking forward to now. You should be hungry for it. You shouldn't be waiting for it. You should be wondering, Is today the day? Am I going to die soon? Am I going to get raptured any moment when Jesus comes back, like what is going to happen next, because I know God is not done with me yet? We should be the most excited people on planet earth. Because we expect something else besides planet Earth. And that's the way we need to be. So, if you're bored of being saved, you may not understand what that really means. Because the best is yet to come. Let me pray for us:
Father in heaven. We thank you that we could finally get to Rome with the Apostle Paul and I just want to thank you, Father, for what you've been teaching me and so many of us who have never been more excited about studying the word than we have been right now. And I just thank you for how you've been teaching us this whole idea of being a ship in the bottle, that if we're being led by your Spirit, if we're doing your will, there is no trial, there is no evil spiritual force that can stop us from seeing your will accomplished. So, God, I pray that, what will it look like the next time the waves rise, the next time the wind blows, the next time the snake jumps out of the fire and bites us? What are we going to do? Are we going to trust in Your word? Are we going to believe your promises? God, I pray that you would create and everybody here are longing to go home. And I'm not talking about the house, we're going to go to after the service tonight, I’m talking about the joy of being in the presence of our Lord and our Savior. Getting to see the one who died for us, getting to see him in his resurrection power of one look with his eyes of fire piercing our soul. We will know Jesus knows us more than anyone else has ever known us. And yet he's still loves us more than anyone else has ever loved us. So, Father, please don't let people here at our church keep talking about salvation like it's something that you already did. And we're over. Please let us be people who are like, please, I want to experience the fullness of my salvation. I'm waiting for it. I'm counting down the days for it. I can't wait to see Jesus. And what does he have me to do between now and that? Where's my room? Who am I here to preach the gospel to who's yet to be saved? Father, please put these things on our hearts. And let us encourage one another. Let the life that you're working in me encourage the people here. Let the life that you're working in them, encourage me, and let it be an upward call of encouragement here at this church. Let us thank God for one another. Let us take courage in our hearts. And let us say to one another, I hope to see you there, my friend. I hope to see you at the end when we're really saved when it really matters, when we're in the presence of the Lord. Yeah, I love seeing people here at church on Saturday night. But what will it be like to see one another in robes of white in the glory of our Lord, guiltless, spotless, filled with joy inexpressible? Father, please teach us these things, we pray in Jesus name. Amen.
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