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All Roads Lead to Rome

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
October 1, 2020 8:00 am

All Roads Lead to Rome

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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October 1, 2020 8:00 am

Turmoil on one side, peace on the other. Wavering on one side, decisiveness on the other. Fear on one side, faith on the other. The turmoil, the wavering, and the fear were all on the side of the Roman authorities. While the peace, the decisiveness, and the faith were all on the side of their prisoner Paul.

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Turmoil on one side piece on the other wavering on one side.

Decisiveness, on the other theater on one side face on the other good turmoil, the wavering of the fear were all on the side of the Roman authorities. While the piece the decisiveness and the faith were all on the side of their prisoner Paul.

Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically for Paul, the road to Rome had been a long one, stretching over two years and Roman courts in prison and shipwrecked on an island in the Mediterranean. In the last chapter of acts. He finally arrives. Let's listen now to Dr. Boyce. I can't help remembering as we come to the last chapter of the book of acts. The arrival at last of the apostle Paul in Rome of the first time I saw around was during my college years, I was traveling alone in Europe which I had been greatly privileged to do so, not only on that but on a previous occasion and I had come down to Rome from the north where I had been doing some vacationing previously. I've seen a lot of the capitals of Europe. I'd been London Paris. I spent some time in Geneva many lesser cities, and yet that arrival in Rome was very impressive thing indeed. It's a great city today. And yet, one can't help but feel particularly if you know anything about antiquity and have any understanding of the ruins. What a great city. What an amazing city. Must've been at the height of the Roman empire was probably never been another city quite like it in all the long history of the world. It didn't door as the capital of the Roman Empire. A growing empire for nearly a thousand years and it was literally during that period, or at least for most of it the focal point of the known or civilized world.

I'm aware because we have a much broader worldview today that there was an entire culture in the Orient, of which the West was unaware for the most part, but our culture comes from last and during those very important years. Rome was the capital. The apostle Paul had been thinking of Rome for a long time himself recognize that if the gospel was to become a world religion Christianity was to expand everywhere as he understood from the teachings of Jesus Christ it was that time would come when it must be proclaimed in force from the capital. Paul's procedure had been to move from major city to a major city, establishing churches and using those great economic or cultural basis as a platform from which the gospel would expand in the lesser's in Ephesus Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth and Athens and of course he always had his mind on Ron earlier in the book of acts when he was saying farewell to the Ephesian elders story is in acts 19. He said in his own words. I must go to Rome. We might think at that point that that was only a desire of calls not necessarily one that was seconded or established by God in his own councils that when we come to chapter 23 refinements, the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to Paul personal layout on this occasion his earlier testimony. I must go to Rome is seconded by the Lord said to him you must go to row. It was bear witness or may there also and now here at the very end of the book of acts that happens. This has been the direction of the book all along. Of course we sought back at the beginning when we established for our own help and assistance. The outline that provides my quoting from the Lord Jesus Christ in his particular version of the great commission that occasion back in the first chapter and in verse eight. Lord Jesus Christ said to his disciples.

You will receive power from above and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. We saw when we study that that it is precisely the outline Luke follows the first seven chapters of the book focus on the witness in Jerusalem and it was a very great witness. Indeed, miracles were done. Gospel was proclaimed church was established that deacons were chosen, all that happened in a formative way in those early days, thinking, persecution, persecution, following the death of Stephen which was persecution upon the church at large, not just upon the leaders I have been subjected to harassment earlier dollop on the church at large and in such a strong and focused way, led in part by Saul later became the apostle Paul is were told in the eighth chapter, the Christians scattered in all the regions round about the regions of Judea and Samaria. There are five more chapters, Luke, the author tells us how the gospel was established in those regions. We know it's going to go beyond that, because one of the incidents in that section of the book concerns still up in his ministry to Ethiopia on his way back to Africa. We know the gospel is expanding to those chapters.

Lucas talking about the witness and Samaria and Judea.

Then in chapter 13 where the Holy Spirit speaks to the church at Antioch and says, separate from the me Barnabas and Saul for the work that I have for them at that point, the great missionary expansion begins. Paul and Barnabas are chosen.

Missionary journeys commence in the gospel spreads into the Greek and Roman communities until here the very end of the book.

It comes in the person of the apostle Paul wrote Christians were there in Rome already shows that you don't need an apostle to establish a church. Not only were they there they were there in great numbers certainly here with the coming of the apostle Paul, a new era begins perhaps from the point of view of this book.

This great missionary movement is completed to sections to the portion of acts 28 that were going to look at the first has to do with Paul's arrival in Malta on the way to Rome at the end of the voyage in which the ship taking him to Rome was wracked the second has to do with his literal arrival in Rome, that as we continue our studies for the last time were going to look at his final preaching there in Rome and see what that has to say to us, but here we have these first two incidents. I think the first one. The ship was wrecked, we saw that in our last study. All of those were on board got ashore that Lord.

It revealed that all that they would be had explained it to that captain to the soldier that was in charge of the prisoners in one great respect for this man. Of all the others on the ship now as the ship was wrecked, and they made it ashore.

What Paul said exactly was completed. Here comes a strange little story were told that when they arrive safely on shore. They found out that it was Malta. The islanders there showed them great kindness. They built a fire and as subscribers came in and out of the water, cold, weary after all these many days it say without any food or rest the middle of the Tempest. I try to comfort them as best they could.

Paul is not one to sit around.

It was a very active individual, one who didn't considered himself above the market was certainly Amanda pitched in on all occasions.

Since Christians should all do, and he began to help out. He went around gathering up sticks for the fire apparently in the middle of the sticks, no doubt because of the cold.

There was a snake described here is a viper stiff. That was mistaken for a stick and was therefore gathered up, but when the fire warmed. It began to revive and bit Paul is a interesting little sidelight on that that TE Lawrence. It was better around us is Lawrence of Arabia describe something almost like this in his book revolt in the desert describing a cold time when they were camped out in the desert desert you know is not always warm and can be quite cold at certain seasons of the year, especially at night.

And that's exactly what happened.

They gathered up the long snake. It was stiff. They thought it was a stick and Lawrence explains how when the fire began the war, but it came out and slithered away the company of his case not biting anybody. Here's what happened. This snake bit. The apostle Paul and the islanders were looking on, didn't know anything about him except that he was one of the prisoners said to themselves, jumping immediately to a conclusion. Well, this man must be some great criminal justice that is destiny great moral power of the universe does not suffer, survive, he escaped the Tempest he didn't drown. But God got them anyway. It's interesting how they jump to conclusions, because several minutes later when they discovered that he did not swell up and fall over and die which is what should've happened.

Rather, that his life was barely jump to another conclusion. They said to themselves well at the statement and that he didn't die, he must be a God of course they were on both counts. They were wrong when they assumed God was out to get him and they were wrong when they assumed the was a God. They just made a mistake of jumping to conclusions. I was reading in a number of commentaries to see what other people have to say about this, and when I was reading Harry Ironside on Maxi gave a story that came from his own experience of a minister who had to write an explanation in the church bulletin which are decided seen correcting a rumor where people and obviously jump to conclusions. He explains that the rumor that had been going around about him was not true apparently was to the effect that his wife had gone to a meeting of a sex where they were teaching heresy and that he had gotten so upset with her doing that that he went to the meeting. He dragged her out by the hair and brought her home and beat her up and so he began to explain that that was not the case that his wife had not gone to this heretical meeting and that he had not dragged her out by the hair as a matter fact he had never dragged her around by the hair and also he had not beat her up. As a matter of fact he had never beat her up and by the way he did not have a wife because he was a bachelor. It is the case that we jump to conclusions and certainly that's what these islanders had done in the case of Paul.

They said well you say he must be a madman and then they said well he must be mine but they were wrong on both counts. It does raise the question, of course, how and why Christians do that. It's not something that is unique to pagans. We do it to the disciples that on one occasion, you recall the story is told in John nine that when they were leaving the temple on one occasion, saw a man there who was blind. They jump to the conclusion that it was the direct result of sin either sin in his life for sin on the part of his parents and so asked Lord.

The question they thought they were great theologians and had worked their way through this carefully and only need a little bit of revelation to carry them over the limitations of their own theological logic. I said Lord. Obviously this is due to sin tell us who sin was was of this man's center was of the sin of his parents. Landlord had to explain to them that they had done the same thing that later. These barbarian islanders on Mullet were to do their jump to conclusions, because as a matter of fact, in this particular case, neither! Was violent must do that with people you know there is a tendency to do that something bad happens to someone, I frequently said of other people something bad comes into their life.

They have an accident untimely death or some such thing. Well obviously they're done something wrong, God is trying to teach them a lesson every knowledge and sometimes that is true.

So when bad things come into our lives. One of the questions we have to ask is whether God is trying to teach us a lesson quiet but we need to understand that that is not necessarily the case. We must never, never, in suffering, make an easy one to one equation of suffering and sin if we examine this something that is worth examining in some care in the Bible, we find that a number of very valid explanations can be given one thing the Bible says Job, perhaps, is the one who says it best in one section, saying man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Is that suffering in various kinds of tribulation are just one part of life. We live in a fallen world, and things do happen. I remember one of our deacons years ago man who long before it became a fad was given over to health foods and all of the things that are supposed to keep you healthy forever. He had a living room that was literally filled with books on health and health dynamics.

I mean hundreds and hundreds of books in his living room. It was like the back room of a secondhand bookstore and he followed this religiously was very very careful about these things. Well, he got older and as he got older, things began to happen to his body couldn't function as well as it did when he was 20 or 40 or even 60. I remember visiting them on one occasion and he said to me somewhat plaintively. I just can't understand what's gone wrong he was beginning to fail and health that he couldn't understand it because believing all the right foods and doing all right. I had to explain to them that as you get older, things do go wrong because you've made mistakes. It's not because you send that is just the natural course of life. I have to keep reminding myself of that from time to time and as I get older. Some of these things that are quite what they used to be like my glasses. I can totally see what I'm trying to rape because I send. I think that I have to wear bifocals, but that just happens. My father had to wear them before me, and no doubt his father before him.

And so that's one explanation that is given isolation that is given in Scripture has to do with our sufferings are tribulations being corrective.

That is when we go astray, God does bring things into our lives to bring us to our senses. That's why I said a moment ago that when bad things come. One of the questions we have to ask is whether we have gone wrong and if God is bringing this into our lives to draw some short so will get off the wrong bath and back on the right one. One great chapter of the Bible that deals with active Hebrews 12 chapter verses five through 11 talk of God bringing discipline into our lives like a father disciplining a child. So that's one purpose of this third thing the Bible teaches about suffering and that's sometimes it's not corrective but constructive as God develops character by the things that we suffer know the great text of tribulation works patience and mature since I've come to understand that text that I have ever praying for patience because that's God's formula for getting out. I think that's one virtue. I'd rather skip of the way in which you get it. This tribulation will, and God knows I need it.

Then he'll bring the tribulation the things that come into our lives the hard things that come to build character and that's the purpose.

But then there is a final glorious purpose is perhaps in most circumstances, presumptuous for us to jump immediately and assume that this is the case, but one purpose for suffering in the life of Christians is that it becomes a form in which we can glorify God, I come to that. Naturally, because having referred earlier to John mind in which the disciples asked the Lord in the case of the man who had been born blind.

What is the cause of this is sin of the sin of his parents. The Lord replied neither, but that the glory of God might be seen puzzling is that we look at that we say do you mean that God let that man be born blind and sit there all those years without site just so Jesus Christ could come along moment in healing and thus bring glory to God. Yes, that is what that text teaches is not our perspective. You say, but the reason it's not our perspective is that we focus on the 38 years, God focuses on eternity in the light of which short span of our life fades into relative insignificance story of Job is that story Job is the greatest story in the Bible about suffering the point of that story. The story of Job is that God was to be glorified through it.

And the interesting point. From our perspective is even when it got to the very very end, Job still didn't understand what was happening. We do because of the beginning we see a scene in heaven. We see God calling Satan's attention to Joe saying what I'm going to glorify my self in him you think he worships me only because of the things I get that you can take the things away and he will still love me and praise me you things because I given him health his health away he will still love me and praise me and so God permits Satan to do it. Then Job comes through triumphantly not without a great deal of puzzlement without a great deal of anguish, but he does not curse God. He praises them I was the case, of course, with Paul, this is a small incident, but this happened in order that God might be glorified. They saw the miracle it opens new opportunities for service healing followed of the chief magistrate of the island, which incidentally is exactly the correct technical term for this particular figure representing the Roman Empire that plays it's another example of Luke's accuracy and then as it goes on to say, there were other healings. Besides, I thought I was mauled by all the jury moves on the wrong they spent three months there on the island because these were the winter months you Recall Shipwreck Had Taken Pl. in November that month had to pass the latter half of its and all of December to January and it was certainly well into February.

Toward the end and perhaps even getting on the march when the weather began to clear up sufficiently for the ships to sail again here on the island's wintering was another ship from Alexandria grain ship part of that great fleet carried rain back and forth from North Africa to Rome, and the soldier in charge of Paul took space on that ship and the prisoners were transported when we read this paragraph beginning in verse 11.

It would almost seem that Luke had a notebook in which she kept along than the rate this is the way it reads I put in at Syracuse first. That is the point of land closest to them when they were sailing north from Baltimore toward Rome. That was a great report on that island they passed from their read Jim and the very tip of the tall of the boot of Italy.

From there they went on up between Sicily and Italy passing through the Straits, and finally they came to put the only and there journey by sea was over, and as Luke says, so we went on to Rome includes an interesting item at this point saying that when they arrived their words quickly got to Rome that Paul had come bullet written years before written the book of Romans, saying that it was intention to, no doubt worded passed back and forth and it reached before this Paul is on his way. Probably a new about his imprisonment without a word came that Paul was there immediately would seem Christians in Rome set out down the AP anyway to see Paul Solomon made it as far as the three taverns, some as far as a form of ABS 10 miles separating the two there they greeted him and Paul was greatly encouraged.

I'm sure he would've been encouraged to know what he was coming to.

He had written a of people in Rome, but no doubt he had questions as to how we would be received about here with the Christians coming out to greet them and yet you know when I read this read of his encouragement. I can't help but remember that some years later when he was writing to the Philippians he spoke of trouble in Rome because of friction about the gospel, some of which was centered in himself. Later, when he wrote second Timothy last of his C referred to young man named Vanessa Ferris who came to visit him and when he came to visit him in Rome bearing greetings from other places no doubt material help financial help. The first was unable to discover where Paul was.

He searched about diligently upset the last day that he found a motorcycle for that, but it's a little insight into what happened.

See when Paul first arrived there in the coast of Italy. He was a celebrity. This was the Great Wall the missionary and the Christian screamed out to see him. Paul was encouraged by then Paul went to Rome and he was imprisoned.

First, he was in a house where he had some freedom of motion but later he lost even that freedom perhaps during the second imprisonment, but at any rate.

As time went by Christians in Rome seem to have forgotten about because when this man came and asked where's Paul Illinois was he had to work hard to find out where Paul was no doubt making inquiries with the Romans and cracking down.

I forgot about it. Say is people do people run clocked in cold but here the crucial moment they were there they greeted him and gave him encouragement when I look back on the story.

The story of the voyage itself and the arrival of Malta and then finally the arrival at Rome, I'm struck by the great contrasts that are here. I wonder if you notice this as you read the story or thought about it.

We share three of them with you one contrast is between the great turmoil and even danger without and Paul's quite evident peace within say is you read the story.

These are tumultuous times. There's the storm that's a literal tumult, but it's not only that was the tumult in Jerusalem that caused his arrest was to mold in the Empire things going as it would seem from bad to worse all over and around them.

Yet throughout all of this as we read it all seems to be at complete peace. Peace in the Lord.

That's one contrast then secondly, there's a contrast between the vacillation of others of the steady progress of the apostle say when Paul fell in the hands of the Roman authorities said first hardly knew what to do with them. The accusations were made. They didn't know what weight to give the accusations. One of the rulers said well let's go back up to Jerusalem, be tried again there.

That's when Paul appealed the Roman then because he did that he had to stay this man kept in prison for a long time, but he really didn't know what to do with them and we seen the accounts of one king after the other. Appearing in there trying to decide what to do back and forth vacillating a very graphic way, the same thing is true of the ship because the ship didn't even make a direct passage maybe it's illustrative of the other back and forth to ships here shipwreck now changed to another ship back and forth, back and forth yet.

You see, the Lord Jesus Christ and said to Paul, you shall bear witness of me in Rome and what impresses us as we take our eyes off these other factors. And what good Paul is that God is working with them in steady progress to bring them to the place where he will bear witness contrast. Perhaps the obvious one is a contrast between fear and the part of some money and faith on the part of the apostle dear dear what people would say even the Roman rulers seem to of had fear of that beer. What the Jewish leaders had to say what Caesar might perhaps say all kinds of fear being expressed throughout all Paul who had his mind not on others but on God was strong in faith and made progress see what made the difference for Paul is that Paul was aware that God was with him. God had a purpose for God said that he would bear witness in Rome that he would most certainly bear witness in Rome. Paul was willing to rest and that breath. That's where the story ends where the application should be most evidently made for us. We to live in a vacillating world world of dangerous among people who are filled with fear, but were called to be, as Paul was in the midst of all of it counting on God resting in him moving forward steadily to do the work that he has for us to do. We could do it because we know that if God leads us in that way then Lord will surely bless us in the effort and the glory will go to him now and forever more spray father.

We do ask for grace to resting you in the midst of the uncertainties of life and so to focus on you. All of these things that are without no, they have importance in their own way, I nevertheless not distract us from the calling that we have been given or witness that we are to bear his faithful strong evidence of our lives. The presence of Jesus Christ. We ask that you will lead others to faith through our lives through our witness for Jesus. You are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place.

Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON, and 1C, two line 9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologian. Thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study

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