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October 2, 2020 8:00 am
In one way it's not a happy ending to the book of acts, the hero of the early chapters is forgotten to hear all of the later chapters is in jail. The Jews are blasé about the gospel yet it's the ending God planned new churches are everywhere. The gospel is being preached in the books, real hero, Christ himself is alive and well, welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Luke finishes the book of acts with Paul. Finally, in Rome yet still in prison with his appeal to the Emperor and apparent dead end as his ministry come to an end as well. In fact, is God's whole plan fizzled.
Let's listen now to Dr. Boyce we come to the very end of the book of acts book, which we've been studying for quite a while.
I don't know if you counted the number of studies that we have had of this book, but if not I tell you that there have been 49 of this is the 50th with a nice round number like that, we come to the end of what is by any measurement a most remarkable book. Some of you may have read that FF Bruce is little volume. The New Testament documents are they reliable and if you have read that it's very easy reading. You have read it, you would know that he has a section in there, in which he deals, particularly with the works of this great story in Luke is responsible for two of our New Testament books the gospel that bears his name. And actually, continuation of the story of the expansion of the gospel which we been studying Bruce does a remarkable study of this remarkable historian. He evaluates them. First of all, in terms of his plan.
The scope of his work. He points out that here was a man who set out to write a rather remarkable document, a document that would chronicle the expansion of Christianity from a very small beginning in Judea, a distant province of the Roman Empire to the point where it had expanded literally throughout the entire Roman world and become a major force in literally every Roman city in documenting the expansion of Christianity.
He has done it by relating it also to the major events and personalities of the time of the words he has not just written a story that stands off by itself somewhere. He constantly brings us into his history those personages that would be known as contemporary C is for example the only one of all the New Testament writers dimension Roman Emperor of the others do, but look not only mentions temporary mentions three of them and he alludes to 1/4 for being the route the Emperor Caesar, to whom the apostle Paul appealed and so was transported around mentions host of other personalities in every city which Paul traveled. He seems to allude to the person that was the chief magistrate in the place and what is more significant.
Not only does the allude to them by name and get their names right.
He even gets their titles right which varied from place to place, depending upon the nature of the community and, moreover, which change from time to time. Bruce points out that not only writes a book of that scope and relates it in a brilliant way to the history of his time studying at it in an age when there were none of the helps, that we might normally have available to us and we set out to write a similar historical narrative we would go to the library and look up the Who's Who. Find the names of important people in their backgrounds and where they served and their birthdates and that type of thing and if particular, the event was fuzzy in our minds we could look up on the microfiche going back into the various pages of the news magazines or Chronicles documents. Parliaments are congresses and find exactly the data that we wanted none of this was available in Luke's time all the were a few libraries in a few places in Rome, for example in there been a great one in Alexandria in Egypt. These were not generally available to normal men and women, and certainly the books that were found there were not circulated. No newspapers is no way for a normal person to get the kind of information you would need to write the history of Outlook quoted accurately. Of course, because C was of a very accurate disposition had an acute mind he sets himself in his introduction to these books that he inquired very carefully after the origin of these things, know that he made notes and hidden some of the situations. Three of the passages that we have in the book of Max indicates by the use of the personal pronoun that he himself was a long traveled with Paul during those periods and again we must assume he made notes so here you have a man who has written a remarkable volume, beginning in Judea, ending in Rome, which shows accurately and in a way that would certainly commend itself to the readers. It is time the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to infuse and eventually to transform the world. Not only that this is a remarkable historian and a remarkable book. This remarkable book even has a remarkable ending which brings us to the point at which we find ourselves you ever come across a book that ended in this way book that has, to do so much with the apostle Paul is ministry as persecutions and successes.
His imprisonment and then at the very end when you're expecting to know how it all turned out, the story of Paul's life is abandoned you read is that for two years. Paul stayed there in his own rented house welcomed all came to see him boldly and without hindrance.
He preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ say that's a remarkable and unexpected ending, but it is certainly not one that looks through it and without thought is exactly the way Luke wanted is booked and because you see in the final analysis, no matter how fascinating we may find that history is of Peter, Philip or Paul, whose strong personality dominates literally the latter half of the book subjective.
Luke's narrative is not the lives of the servants of God is concerned about is the gospel wants to show it expanding so when we get to the very end, we find that that's what's happening there in Rome, the very heart of the center, the capital of the Roman Empire.
Paul is preaching and in those days, for the period of time. At least gospel went on without hindrance all sorts of hindrances.
If you look at it only from a human point of view.
Persecution is a hindrance upon that experience.
Plenty of Paul is imprisonment. That was a hindrance and kept them from moving about. He had opposition from his own people, and there was indifference on the part of the Roman authorities. Autos were hindrances to say in spite of the external material physical hindrances the gospel itself was not hindered because the word of God is not bound is not a wonderful thing. You and I need to apply it were going to do that as we go on through our study, we certainly need to apply it in this way, when we talk to people were very conscious, often of the hindrances in us. For example, we don't seem to have the answers to the questions we wish we could present the gospel more wisely. We wish we had more experience to draw from and therefore hindrances and then people are hostile or indifferent want this gospel today, anymore than they wanted to do in the time of Jesus Christ of the time of the apostle Paul. Although there hindrances you say the word of God itself is not hindered in our task is to make it known the God who is the God of all things are possible will take it and will blessed because he is promised to do so. He says when his word goes forth out of his mouth is not frustrated, but it accomplishes that which you sent it to these/verses beginning in verse 17 we find that they describe two things to meetings of the apostle Paul had been wrong, seemed very shortly after he arrived there three days access is after he got settled apparently rented a house of his own means and was able to begin thinking about his presence in the city and the impact he wanted to have.
He sent out for and called together the leaders of the various Jewish communities in this large city. Number of synagogues and home at the time we have records and remains of some of them at least three perhaps many more than that undoubtedly got in touch with the leaders of the synagogues and the rabbis of the chief men of the Jewish community called them together because he wanted to explain to them it was a very political maneuver on his part. A wise one why he was there when he had been charged with and why the accusations had been false. We read this week find that he made three points in his meeting with these leaders wanted was not guilty of any offense against Israel wanted that to be clear, it was Truax that he was there because of charges brought against him by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem is not guilty of any offense against Israel are important for them to be able to say that the Jewish leaders in the capital.
Secondly, the Romans had been ready to release him and wanted to because they recognize that the had not committed a crime worthy of death that's not necessarily the same thing that is involved in the first statement when he said he was not guilty of any offense against his nation. That in itself would not be a crime. As the Romans would look at it.
He could've offended his nation in some way religiously and the Romans wouldn't care about that but is actually making two points you say, from their perspective as they would look at it spiritually or in terms of the traditions of Israel had done nothing against his people and also on the point of view of the Romans in terms of their civic law firms of disturbances and insurrections and all that you do nothing that would offend the Romans and as a matter of fact Romans were ready to release them except the difficulty that he had because of the opposition of the Jewish leaders makes 1/3 point is third point is this, in spite of the fact that he had been charged falsely as he maintains by the religious leaders in Jerusalem. He had not brought a cover charge against them. We should very well understand how that operates because that is the traditional legal maneuver today somebody sues you for something you counter so immediately say because what you want to say is that they're the ones that are guilty, not you. But Paul says in his case, he didn't do this, he had not brought any charges against his people bow that point and perhaps also proceeding at the leaders in Rome were most discrete way denied one hand that they had heard anything about it hard to believe that that was not the case but no doubt it wasn't for some reason or another. Some story and speculating on the fact that Paul may very well have been released here after two years of assumed the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem simply didn't pursue him with her charges and so after a period of 18 months or two years had expired. Paula simply released because of the lack of a formal charge that may have been may have been that they were quite content having already had them out of their hair for three years. Two years in prison incessantly in one year's journey to Rome more or less that they really weren't worried about him anymore long as he was in Rome and in custody, and it would take two years before he was released back in five years. A grace perhaps I didn't care.
They been the case that he raped the leaders in Rome said to him, we don't really know anything about your case, but they said we have heard something about this sect of the Nazarenes and we must tell you quite frankly everything we hear about it is no good. Well said Paul, this is what he was leading up to anyway. Why don't we all get together in the future time and I will explain my teaching was serious… Really was a very distinguished group of mad I said yes it would be our duty to hear that you would like to hear it and they gave intention of their sincerity by fixing a date for the larger meeting and that brings us to the second instance after we have the time when he met with the leaders themselves very impolitic thing to do. As I've indicated they fixed the date and then they have the larger meeting a lot of people came in indicates that that would mean not only leaders themselves.
But perhaps others were distinguished.
Perhaps people were just very interested from various synagogues and Jewish communities round about this great city were told is that on this occasion instead of speaking about himself from the charges against him and his innocence as he had done on the form, occasion, Paul preached the gospel. Moreover, he preached all a long says that explicitly began in the morning and he went on the evening declaring the kingdom of God and preaching Jesus as a sermon. I would like to of had recorded like you had videotaped but not having videotapes in those days I would have settled just for little cassette recorder offices.
I don't think this means that it was a monologue. Certainly Paul would teach as he did in other places, but in this kind of a company. He would have been answered again and again by the rabbis who had questions as would be a student minds gave an interpretation of an Old Testament prophecy challenge. It may pursue. It is only rabbis can go and this went on all day long. I wish we had a recording of it or we knew what Paul preached.
But I don't think it's all that difficult to surmise the gist of what he might've said because the very next book in the New Testament is the book of Romans.
You recall that Poligrip met three years earlier. He was in Corinth and slightly more than three years earlier when he was in Corinth. The Romans, in order to explain his gospel.
Now we had, and where right to suppose that he followed more or less the general outline of what it said in that great letter, the greatest of all Pauline letters begun by speaking of our obligation to know God and worship him in the loving with all our hearts will all our souls will all our minds, he would've had a point of contact there with the Jewish years because of course it's absolutely true, it's what the Scriptures teach what is he would also have gone to point out.
None of us is done that involve only short of that standard. And he would've explain why it is exclamation would've been something like what we find in the early chapters of the book of Romans fact that the Gentiles rejection of the knowledge of God entirely upon their own way fallen and all kinds of the baseball practices. The Jews in Rome would've known what that meant.
They only had to look out their window to see how based pagan society becoming that time that he would've said we Jews of Mystic to a would've gone to explain that because he would've said, what we have done. You see is Joe's is substituted kind of self righteousness for true righteousness regarding the matters of faith and trust which are so prominent in the Old Testament and we are brought along without a kind of official ceremonial religion which we use as a substitute for a troop part relationship with God. I don't know the hearts of those to whom he was speaking.
But if they were sensitive matters.
Perhaps we have every right to believe they must've been something in their hearts must've acknowledged that was true.
Which of us have any sensitivity of all even after we come to know God through Jesus Christ isn't aware of the coldness of heart toward Almighty God.
We know we should love them.
We find ourselves. Like Luther, saying, generally, we do not refine barriers between ourselves and God are sensitive in our prayers seem to be unheard and often are unanswered. These Jewish men must've acknowledged that, as Paul unfolded the need must've concluded by saying you see this other question so much of being Jew or Gentile.
Just a question of being sinners and that is what all of us are there is none righteous, no not one. There is none that understand that there is none seek after God. That's not something that is only said in Romans all quotes out from the Old Testament. From the book of Psalms where you find it twice. That must've had an echo in their hearts and then he went on to talk about Jesus, the hope of Israel, the Messiah, who all maintained and now, all here's the point at which he would've gotten opposition. We're expecting the Messiah all right but not this despised Nazarene ball would've begun to go back to the Old Testament all the prophecies that speak of in the kind of things we find in the Gospels in Matthew's gospel, particularly because Matthew was written to Jews almost text which Paul would have begun to show how it was the Jesus of Nazareth, a particular man in their own time and in that place fulfilled the prophecies and was Messiah. Moreover, had done what the Messiah had to do that I had missed it in their reading of the Old Testament.
They read the Old Testament in terms of the glory of Israel and they were looking for a day when God for the Messiah would reestablish Israel as the dominant nation in the world with the Messiah on the throne of David, of course, is prophecies of their what Paul would've tried to show them is that before that happened was necessary that the Messiah died to provide salvation not only for them but for the Gentiles as well because God does not show favoritism.
He doesn't show concern for one nation rather than another, but he cares for all man and all women equally. Jesus died to be their Savior, but were told that they begin to disagree among themselves.
Some of them believe that apparently were convinced by his reasoning. Most of them apparently were not. The reaction was so strong that Paul was led to this great text from Isaiah 6 chapters verses nine and 10 where he said to them, the Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet, go to this people and say you will be ever hearing but never understanding will be ever seeing but never perceiving this people's heart is become callously hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes here with their ears, understand with their hearts. I would turn and heal them get to that point very close to the end of this book attempted to ask ourselves was Paul puzzled by this reaction.
Was he discouraged by it.
I don't know whether Paul was discouraged by it. Certainly when you preach the gospel, even under the most adverse circumstances, you preach it optimistically. Your expecting God to work and hope that he will and when he met with this great resistance. It may well be that in a certain sense, humanly speaking, Paul was discouraged or at least downcast.
What I know is that he was not puzzled as I know he wasn't puzzled is that this was a problem that he had worked through previously and as a matter of fact it worked out in detail in the middle chapters of the book of Romans is must've been an enormous problem was a June Jesus was a Jew. He was the Messiah of the Jews, and he had done everything that had been prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures.
Now the messengers of the gospel, who were Jews initially came along and preach the Jews and for the most part the Jews were rejecting the message Stroh that the message was sent in the whole world. They went into the whole world as well is a blend of the Gentile world. The Gentiles, surprisingly, it would seem began to come to faith so that was usually how can this be the one who is the Messiah of Israel would be rejected by Israel and Gentiles would always been at least in the thinking of Jews and afterthoughts seem to be the ones were responding.
Anybody could say, Luke certainly could see as he wrote the book, but the church was becoming increasingly Gentile, and less and less Jewish. Paul would've asked the same question any thinking Jew would've asked baby Gentiles to has God really cast off his people is he proving that he's unfaithful of the promises that he has made to the Jewish nation. So Paul began to work that out. I want a great time to deal with it. But if you turn what Paul says in the ninth, 10th and 11th chapters of Romans, you find that he not only works it out, but he works about a very thoughtful way.
Point by point goes through the various things that need to be said, when you deal with this important question. First thing he says is when persons are saved in Abraham's time, or any other time was always by the electing grace of God, nobody's ever saved in any other way. The choice is always with God. What follows from that is that God elects in one period of history to save a lot of Jews. Not many Gentiles. Well that's God's business and if in another period of history. God elects to save a lot of Gentiles about many Jews that's all right to that's God's business is always my election is God's choice.
Any Jew would know that in the role. The quotations from the Old Testament to show what secondly again in the ninth chapter of Romans. She said that this rejection by a large portion of Israel is only something that God had already promised in the Old Testament was wasn't at all unexpected. God said it would happen because of a number of passages in Erickson's 916 rose up to 23 years, I have one tenant to great text from Isaiah Isaiah 10 verses 22 and 23 and Isaiah 1 verse nine point of those passages is that God promised always that only a remnant would be saved. In other words, the majority would not think so. All that was prophesied in the Old Testament.
The third thing he says in those chapters is that although it was prophesied that the majority would reject the Messiah when he came. The rejection was nevertheless not God's fault always tend to think of it that way, we say well if salvation is my election and it got prophesies of most loudly say that is God's fault that they're not saved.
Paul says that that is not true recently when say was her own fault and that has two parts. They pursued their salvation apart from faith and faith in the necessity for was taught of the Old Testament, but they didn't like that idea and secondly they pursued their own righteousness, preferring that God's righteousness. In other words, they wanted God to pat them on the back and say how well they did in that area of the Jews is exactly the error people make today you talk about salvation being by grace what God does for us in Jesus Christ number one reaction you will get is this I don't want anything like that. I want to do it for myself.
Of course, that's just what the Jews were doing so Paul says it's her own fault in common. The way God had maintained. They should, even the way the Scriptures taught in the first place. Paul says hello to Stroh that many were rejecting the Messiah. Nevertheless, not all were rejecting and is a case in point brings forward and saw because I told you I am of the tribe of Benjamin. I'm Hebrew of the Hebrews and yet God by election reached base of archers believing. Moreover, he said this is the fifth point this is nothing new in this time and age it's always been that way you go back into Old Testament history to the time of Elijah. For example find in Elijah's time there only seven files among the Jews would not bow down the debate elements become apostate course when God said that to Elijah. It was meant to encourage them. Elijah said I even I only left and God said no, you're not alone. The seven files and that will stand with you and that was good from Elijah's point of view, but if you think of it in terms of the masses of the people 7000 was not very many still remnant.
So Paul said to see in the time of Elijah, even under the ministry of his great a man is that still only a remnant who were saved. The six point he makes these does this in the 11th chapter is that although it is true that God is moving in this age primarily among the Gentiles. This, in the final analysis is itself for Israel's good speaks they are of the conversion of the Gentiles, provoking the Jews to jealousy long as they had all wrapped up. You say so that all Jews were saved. Nobody but Jews were saved. Anybody wanted to be saved had to become a Jew, well then they could be quite content in their own righteousness perish because they really were not trusting the Messiah when the gospel began to spread to Gentiles and the Gentiles, believed and entered into the blessings of God.
This provoke some to jealousy and so the effect according to Paul's teaching was a good one. And finally seven points to these three chapters cause the end effect is good. The end itself is good.
And Paul says the end will be the salvation of the nation's exact words are and so all Israel will be saved. I believe that teaches that there is to be future time of great Jewish blessing when many masses of Jewish people are going to turn to Jesus as their Messiah.
Well I say all of that by way of background, in order to make the point that when Paul preached in Rome on this momentous day. All the leaders of the Jewish communities, and others.
Besides, it certainly did not puzzle him or surprise him, though it may have disappointed him that for the most part they rejected his message indicates it. This time, not by quoting the passage that he does quote so well in the book of Romans. But by quoting the six chapter of Isaiah verses nine and 10, which I have read some of the said, speaking of God's leading in our lives that God never closes one door but that he opens another one. I suppose that's true. I don't know how you would demonstrate that is true. You have to examine all the closed doors and all the open doors. I suppose demonstrated in the scientific fashion, but generally I think we do find that is true.
God closes one door but of the might open another. Certainly that is what happened here in Rome it was a door to the Jewish community, as it would seem close doesn't mean that there were never any Jews believe.
Certainly there were because when Paul wrote to Romans seven, the 16th chapter begins to list all the people that he knew they were in the church of Rome there Jewish maintenance and certainly there were Jews were believers of the most part, the door was closing Jewish community was shutting them out they were rejecting the message they laughed but it does say, nevertheless, the door was opened to the Gentiles. Paul himself said it to say he said I want you to know that God salvation is been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen and it's on the basis of that the book at him saying for two whole years. Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him mostly Gentiles you say boldly and without hindrance.
He preached to them the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
You see that that door to the Gentiles, at least, some perhaps now in a new way and are dated door to the Jews is open today as well. That's why the book ends the way it does is not clear enough. Here Paul is experiencing an open door to the Gentiles. I doors open.
The book ends that way because throughout this entire age until Jesus Christ returns with new interventions of God in history.
A door to the Gentiles is open, and as long as I door was open going to preach open door to the Gentile community that he was going to do that will, and we must do it as well. That's our opportunity God opens a door to the Jews for you preaching that door as well about opens the door to your neighbor preached that door as well, whatever it may be. Here are their higher low whoever it is who will listen because this is the day of Christian proclamation and it is the preaching and teaching and sharing of the word of God that God honors. I want you to notice just these few brief points as we close the gospel that Paul is preaching here.
The 28th chapter of the book of acts is the same gospel that was preached by Peter at the beginning of a different gospel because it's a different person. It's not a different gospel because it's a different period of history. It's not a different gospel because it's a different city matter whose preaching when he or she is preaching or in what city or place a person is preaching. It's the same gospel. The gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.
And that is our gospel today.
Secondly, the results of the gospel of the same. That is what it's preached some rejected and some respond to it was that way when Peter preached at Pentecost. It's that way when Paul preached at Rome. It is that way when we teach people about Jesus Christ today so Melissa and I will open our hearts melt the resistance and draw them to Jesus. Others will resist or not to think that if we experience rejection resistance that we are any different than any of those who have preceded us and then here's the third point of doing them quickly. Not only is it the same gospel, not only as of the same effects, but Christ's plan for the expansion of the gospel of the founding of his church is not frustrated say at this point, we read of the preaching of the gospel at Rome.
It really is right to go back to the first chapter where have been asked this version of the great commission by the Lord Jesus Christ saying to his disciples, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth that is what is happening as the book closes we may be frustrated, we often are. But Jesus is not frustrated, and his plans most certainly are not. So I guess will say at this point it's inevitable well all of that is nice. But whatever happened to the apostle Paul Dorians are divided on that I think generally the opinion today as it was released after these two years doesn't write about it because he wasn't with them at the very end. Paul probably did travel to other places.
Last books he wrote with the pastoral second Timothy especially in the indicates of those books in some places, things that probably had not been able to happen in the history of the business of the book of acts, so presumably he traveled.
He did other things he may have got to Spain he certainly went to Crete and other things. The tradition in the church or CBS tells us about it that we don't have any New Testament evidences that he went back to Rome later after the great fire of 8064 Rome been set on fire perhaps by Nero in order to clear its and we build it was such an outcry from the people that Nero blamed it on the Christians. Paul came back shortly after that. Of great hostility toward Christians was arrested and eventually was martyred, presumably that's the history to see the points of this book is sent from God's perspective and from the perspective of the gospel. There is a sense in which that doesn't matter. Course, what happens to his servants does matter to God. It does say precious in the sight of the Lord of the death of his saints.
What happens to you. Your life is precious to him. But there is a sense understand I'm saying this in a certain way is a sense in which what happens to us is irrelevant to the greater story which is the expansion of the gospel that means is you see one of us in particular period of history may have great success in what we do with people like that great evangelist times of the moving of God's spirit or breach of many respond and everything seems to go well and then the other periods of history. Perhaps more like our own. When response to spiritual things are superficial and the gospel is preached, perhaps even with the same energy of the same blessing of the spirit of the responses boring people are hostile see in a sense, it doesn't matter.
What does matter is that we are faithful in the calling to which God has called us weather and good times we see it or bad times as we see it when they're in ages. A spiritual blessing our ages and spiritual mom blessing. The plan of Jesus Christ, nevertheless goes forward as he said this gospel must be preached throughout all the world all peoples and then the end, that end is not yet, you and I therefore still have the task of preaching that we do it. That's the message of the book word is not hindered the messengers we take. It's we well God will accomplish with the 20 chooses to accomplish the praise of the glory of his grace I was praying father, bless our study of this book to our hearts and do so we ask in practical ways. This is a practical book. It's not a book filled with great theological mysteries book that has told us of the expansion of the gospel is people just like ourselves. Men and women took their neighbors told them about Jesus. That's what we need to do.
Would you help us to do it.
There was an urgency in that task to get on with it and then bless us in it. To the degree that you choose sentence. Think wise, we will give you the glory for through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen