NTB-5-ACTS-8 - The Gospel to Rome
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“Acts: Lesson 8”
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now,
The apostle Paul said “I appeal to Caesar.” And to that Festus said,
“To Caesar you've appealed, to Caesar you shall go,” Acts 25:11-12.
We welcome you to the final chapters in our study of the book of
Acts. We hope that you’ll get your Bible handy and stay tuned with us as
we think about the climax of this great book in these final chapters.
In Acts chapter 26 Paul is now going to be before Agrippa ready to
preach the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I want you to notice
the mindset of which Paul approaches, his defense of Christianity before
this leader, who has Paul's hands or Paul's life is very hand. Look in Acts
26:2. The Bible records “So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for
himself, ‘I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer
for myself before you concerning all the things which I'm accused by the
Jews.’” How did Paul feel about standing before this dignitary, this political
leader, who could snuff out Paul's life if he wanted to? Paul said, “I'm happy
to be here today to give a defense of my life and of Christianity.”
As we think about the apostle Paul, and what made him such a great
worker and servant and evangelist for the Lord, Paul looked at it as a joy to
speak about Jesus and defend his own life in view of that. Friend from this
we've got to realize as Christians, we need to find the joy in telling others
about the message of Christ. It is not drudgery. It's not a burden. It is not
something I have to do or I'm going to go to hell if I don't. Telling others
about Christ, it ought to make us happy to do that because we can tell
somebody about the best life. Jesus said “I came that you may have life
and have it more abundantly,” John 10:10. We can tell somebody about the
way to heaven. Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life no man
comes to the Father except by me,” John 14:6. We can tell somebody
about the only name under heaven among men by which they can be
saved, Acts 4:12.
When we speak about Christ, It's not ‘ah I have to do this, or I'm
going to be lost.’ No. I'm happy to speak about Jesus- the one who came
from heaven, the one who lived a perfect life among men, the one who
made that ultimate sacrifice, and the one who promises: “Come unto me all
you who labor and are heavy laden I'll give you rest,” Matthew 11:28-30.
Do we really have the joy of Christianity that we ought to have? Paul
said “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”
Now as you look at Paul's defense, Paul is going to appeal to several
things in defense of his life and in defense of Christianity. I want you to
notice those with me. Paul begins in Acts 26:4 stating that he and his
character is well known before God and Christ. Look in verse number four.
The apostle Paul says “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent
from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know
they know me from the first if they were willing to testify that according to
the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee,” Paul says ‘You want to
give a defense of Christianity in my life? Here it is. You know my life. You
know me. You know the way I've lived. You know I've stood foursquare for
A person's character is a big part of people wanting to listen to the
gospel. Would you listen if somebody came preaching the gospel and they
were a known thief, liar, drunk, or great somebody who was immoral?
Would you let be prone to listen to that person? Of course not! Whatever
they said you would dismiss almost automatically. What about somebody
who was always trying to do right? What about somebody who is gone to
great lengths to stand up for what they felt is right and true? Paul said,
‘Look at my life. My life is a reflection that I have always tried to do the right
How else does Paul defend this? He defends it based on the promise
of the fathers in the Scripture. Look in Acts 25 or Acts 26:6-7.Paul now
says in verse six, “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the
promise made by God to our fathers to this promise our 12 tribes earnestly
serving God night and day hoped to attain for this hope's sake King
Agrippa. I am accused by the Jews.” That promise goes all the way back to
Genesis 12 where God said to Abraham ‘I'll make you a great nation. I will
bless you and multiply your seed in you in your seed all nations of the earth
shall be blessed.’ It that seed wasn't necessarily Isaac. That seed wasn't
necessarily Jacob. That seed wasn't necessarily David. ‘And to your seed
who is Christ,’ Galatians 3:15-17. Paul says ‘look Agrippa you know these
things. You've heard these things. I'm being judged for the promise made
to the fathers which the Scriptures confirm.’ 2 Samuel 7:12-15 God made
the promise to David. ‘I'm going to raise one up from your seed. He'll have
an everlasting kingdom. All nations will be blessed by Him.’ That seed is
identified in the Scripture as Jesus, Luke 1:32-35.
Then Paul mentions up not only in his defense, God's power to raise
the dead. And he mentions several things or several items a you've got
Elisha, you've got Lazarus, and no doubt you've got Jesus who was
resurrected from the dead. He then says ‘If you think all this is a hoax, look
at my life before. I was the persecutor. I was injurious to the cause of
Christ. I thought I was doing all those things, but then Christ confronted me.
Then I saw the light in essence. I had that conversion to Christianity. I
realized that was the right way, and I was doing things contrary to the
teaching of God.’ Paul's defense he is ‘Hey I've always lived right. I've lived
among you people. You know me. Look at the Scriptures. They teach this.
Look how I tried to live the other way to the best my ability, and when I saw
the truth I was ready to obey and to do exactly what God said. God wanted
me to do.’ When we think about Paul, He illustrates this in such a vivid way
his commitment to the teaching of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Now I want you to notice next that Paul also mentions in this address
to Agrippa the purpose and the power of preaching the gospel. Look in
verse number 18. Paul says this in Acts 26:18 Paul said that “God sent
them to open their eyes in order to turn them from darkness to light from
the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and
an inheritance among all those are sanctified by faith in me.” What's the
purpose of preaching the gospel? To turn people from darkness to light, to
help people to see the way so that others can receive the forgiveness of
I think people get a bad impression of preaching the gospel. ‘Well
they're just trying to condemn this lifestyle, or they're just trying to make me
feel guilty. Or they don't want to let us have any fun.’ No. That's not it! We
want to help people to see the light like Paul did. We want people to come
out of error and sin and to receive forgiveness of sins and that inheritance
which God has promised. It is that the power of God's word that's able to
do that. “The word of God is living and powerful sharper than any two
edged sword,” and thus we must live according to its teaching. James said
in James 1:21 that ‘we need to receive with meekness the implanted word
which is able to save our souls.’
Now how do people respond to that? Friend some people, in view of
many of the things Paul has said and in view of the preaching that many do
today of the gospel of the truth, a lot of people respond by thinking that is
sheer insanity and madness.
Look at what is said in Acts 26:24 by Agrippa. Agrippa responds by
saying in verse 24, as Paul made his defense or. Festus with a loud Festus
with a loud voice said ‘Paul you are beside yourself.’ Now watch this, ‘much
learning is driving you mad.’ Here's Agrippa hearing gospel. Festus is
there. Festus has had enough. He says ‘You're beside yourself. You're
crazy. All this learning has made you mad or insane.’ To Festus and to
Agrippa, and no doubt to Felix whose lives were not being lived according
to the teaching of God, this was sheer insanity.
But you know what? There was a man in the Bible who at one point
was driven mad. Mark chapter 5 that man who we know of as Legion. He
had the multiplicity of demons inside him. The Bible says that when Christ
cleansed him of those demons that man was sitting clothed and in his right
mind. That's kind of the opposite of what Festus thinks here. Jesus and the
teaching the gospel doesn't make us mad. Jesus and the teaching of the
gospel helps to put us in the right mindset, to focus on heavenly things to
focus on what God wants us to focus on. Of course Paul, as he responds to
this, he said ‘Most noble Festus, I'm not mad. I'm just preaching the things
of the gospel.’ That soft answer that turns away wrath, Paul uses that no
doubt in Acts 26:25.
I want you to notice what I think Agrippa's recipient response; I feel I
think is one of the saddest responses in all of the Scripture. Agrippa's been
hearing the gospel. It's been taught according to Scriptures. He cannot
deny these things. How does he respond? Look in Acts 26:28. The Bible
records Paul said in verse 27 “Agrippa do you believe the prophets? I know
you believe these things.” Verse 28 then Agrippa said, “Go away for now.”
Agrippa said to Paul verse 28, “You almost persuade me to become a
Christian.” Paul says ‘that's a shame for I wanted to almost and altogether
for you to be as I am, except these chains.’
I think when Paul heard those words; it had to break his heart. But
just imagine Agrippa's mindset. He knew the truth. He heard these things.
He'd been raised with a Jewish background. In some ways he could not
deny the prophets or what was said here. His response is almost ‘You
persuade me to become a Christian.’ I wonder how many people have
almost become a Christian? How many people have heard the gospel?
How many people have had that prick their hearts? How many people who
even with the back the Bible knew that was right? How many people knew
they needed to change their life? How many people knew they were going
to stand in judgment before God, and their response is right at the brink?
And ‘Almost you persuade me to become a Christian, to be almost saved.’
Someone once said ‘To be almost saved is to be altogether lost.’
Friend almost doesn't do it. Getting close won't help you get to heaven.
Just doing a few good things, just living right, or just hearing the gospel
preached that isn't enough. You've got to make that commitment to the
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We ask you to think again, personally about your own life. Maybe
you've heard the gospel preached. Maybe you know that to be true. Maybe
you've been right up at the brink of ready to make that commitment, and
you are almost there. Wouldn't it be horrible to be almost saved on the Day
of Judgment and to be altogether lost? Don't just say ‘almost.’ Paul said ‘I
hope. I wish you weren't almost. I wish you were altogether as I am except
these chains. I wish you would make the commitment I have, and I wish
you would take me out of these chains in essence,’ he said. Friend let's
think about our life. Let's make sure that we're not almost there. Let's make
that firm commitment to serve God and to put our trust in the Almighty so
that we can know that we're right in the sight of God.
Now in Acts chapter 27 Agrippa, Festus, and Felix- they're now all
going to send Paul of course to Rome to Caesar. Paul is in the midst of
making that great journey to Rome itself across the ocean difficult seas
perilous times no doubt. Trial and tribulation will arise. How does Paul deal
with the difficulties of that journey? I want you to look in Acts chapter 27,
and I want you to notice what the Bible says. Look at Paul's great faith in
God in Acts 27:25. The Bible records these words as Paul is in the midst of
a great storm. Paul said, “To the men therefore take heart men for I believe
God that it will be just as it was told me.” An angel appeared Paul and said
‘As long as everybody stays on the ship, everything's going be okay.
There'll be no loss of life.’ They want to throw stuff over. They don't know if
they're going to make it. And Paul says “Take heart. Be encouraged. I
believe God that it will be just as He told me.”
Friend, Paul was a great man. You we know this from his life. But can
you imagine being in the midst of this turbulent sea? Can you imagine in
your mind's eye the waves crashing over that boat? Imagine the terror and
the heart ache in people's life as they don't know whether they're going to
sink in the middle of the ocean or not. Paul receives this vision ‘No loss of
life will occur.’ What's Paul say? ‘I believe God that it will be.’ Now you
listen to this, ‘I believe God that it will be just as He told me.’ Now friend
you talk about faith and example of faith! That's a powerful example of it!
“Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God.” Paul had heard that
in Acts chapter 9. Paul had seen Christ be with him the whole time from his
conversion forward. Paul has that faith to say ‘Settle down,’ in essence. ‘It's
going be okay, because God said it would be.’ That's the type of faith that
each one of us needs to make it through this life. Listen to these words
John said, the beloved apostle John said in 1 John 5:4, “This is the victory
we have, even our faith victory over the world, victory over sin, victory over
problems.’ If I continue to faithfully trust in God, I can be victorious in the
end. Now as you look at the story, God does care for Paul in the shipwreck.
Paul is taken care of. When life throws us difficulties, God promises to care
for us as well.
I want you to look in Acts chapter 27 and notice what the Bible says
in verse number 44. The Scripture records these words in verse number
44, ‘And the rest some on boards and some parts of the ship,’ now watch
this, ‘and so it was that they all escaped safely to land.’ Paul said ‘don't
worry God's going to take care of everybody. He already told me He was.’
They all get off on the land. The water comes off their clothes. They stand
on the beach, and they realize Paul was right. They realize more
importantly what he said, God said, was right also. Friend God took care of
Paul. He kept His promises. Even in the midst of the shipwreck that Paul
faced, God was there with him. In the troubles of life, God's going be with
me and you. The Bible says no temptation has overtaken us except such
as is common to men but God is faithful, who with the temptation will also
make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians
10:13, God said ‘I'll never leave you nor forsake you so that you may boldly
say the Lord is my helper what will man do unto me.’ Let's realize God's not
going to abandon His own.
Now we turn our attention to that beach where they have just got out
of the water, some old pieces of wood, some on other items, and they're
now safe on the beach there. What's going to happen? Well, here a definite
miracle is going to occur to prove the apostle Paul is a spokesman of God.
Now you think about this- along the way to preach the gospel to Caesar,
the ship is broken up. They all make it a land safely, and on this island the
gospel is now going to be confirmed.
Look in Acts chapter 28 and watch what happens in verses 3 and 6 or
3 through 6. The Bible says “But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks
and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and
fastened onto his hand. So when the natives saw the creature hanging
from his hand, they said to one another ‘No doubt this man is a murderer,
whom though he escaped the sea. Yet justice does not allow him to live.”
But watch this, “but he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no
harm.” However they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall
down dead. But after they look for a long time and saw no harm come to
him, they changed their minds and said ‘he was a god.’ Of course Paul
doesn't take this. He doesn't want people to think he's a god. Verses 8
through 10 he will identify this as the power of God. Why the viper? Why
Paul getting bit? Why this great miracle? To confirm to these natives who
have a very odd view about God and punishment to begin with. That they
need to listen to Paul. Paul's not a god, but he has something to say as a
servant of God. You know, any man get bit by viper chances are very slim
he's going to live. They knew that. They thought this was God's vengeance.
No this is God's servant. ‘Listen up.’ That's the point of the miracle.
Miracles would you were to confirm the word, Mark 16:18-20 and Hebrews
Now a lot of the emphasis today is often put on the miracle itself
when the miracle is not the main emphasis. The miracle is a big blinking
sign to point to someone as a spokesman of God. It's not the miracle that
should be the emphasis. It's the message that the miracle pointed to. Paul's
message, of course, is that Christ is the Son of God, that He's the way of
salvation, that there is a God, and that we must follow His will and His
As we think about Acts chapter 28, as Paul further journeys on
toward, he makes it eventually to Rome. When they appointed Paul a
certain day and his own lodging, to who he then begins to explain the
promises and the teaching of God at the expense with Rome footing the
bill. He is now in Rome, a prisoner, waiting to appeal to Caesar preaching
Listen to Acts 28:23. The Bible says, “So when they had appointed
him a day many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and
solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning
Jesus from both the law of Moses and the prophets from morning until
evening, waiting on appeal to look into Caesar's eyes himself and preach
the gospel.” Paul is taking every opportunity to continue his mission that
he's got his own place to live. They give him a platform and a day. Paul
allows people to come in, and he preaches the law of Moses- what the law
said, what the prophets said, concerning Jesus that He is the Son of God.
He preaches the kingdom of God.
Well Paul, what did you preach about the kingdom? Paul didn't
preach the kingdom as a future reality. Paul preached the kingdom in
existence. Colossians 1:13 God translated some of the first century out of
darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son. Jesus said “I will build my
church and the gates of hell shall not destroy it I'm going to give to you the
keys of the kingdom.” Acts chapter 2, that kingdom was opened to the
Jews. Peter preached the message of how to get into the kingdom. “God
added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
Now as you think about the preaching of that kingdom, as you bring
the book of Acts to a close, I want you to watch how Paul preaches with a
firmness- the present reality of that kingdom. Look in Acts 28:30-31. The
Bible says “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house and
received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching
the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence no one
forbidding him.” Again you imagine this: Romans paying to get Paul of to
Rome and appeal to Caesar. Paul's got his own rented place and in Rome
waiting to appeal. For two years, he's preaching the gospel. Imagine the
good by these what some would see as tribulation and difficulty and
persecution. Look at the mass amount of good that came because of that!
And here's Paul preaching the kingdom of God as a present reality that
people could obey, could become Christians, and could learn how to do the
work and the will of Almighty God.
Friend as you think about the book of Acts, in totality, God made the
promise to these servants of His in this book. ‘You will be my witnesses in
Judea and Jerusalem-Samaria even- to the uttermost parts the world.’ We
saw Judea with the apostles. We saw Jerusalem with the preaching of the
apostles. Samaria Philip goes down to Samaria, and then from the
conversion of Saul to Paul, all the way to Rome itself. What we think of as
the uttermost parts of the world! The gospel is definitely preached.
Friend, as you think about this practical application, let's realize God
expects His people, wants His people, to spread that message as far and
as wide as we possibly can.
Maybe today you're hearing for the very first time about Jesus Christ
as the Son of God. Listen carefully, ‘God so loved the world He gave His
only begotten Son,’ the Scripture says in John 3:16. Jesus, the Son of God,
left heaven, 2 Corinthians 8:9. He came does that to this earth to be the
Savior of the world, Matthew 1:19 -21. He lived a perfect life tempted in all
points as we are, yet without sin. His life came to a blockbuster, or climax,
by Him giving Himself as a sacrifice. Listen to these words “He, Himself
bore our sins in His own body upon the tree that we having died to sin
might live for righteousness by whose stripes we are healed.”
He gave His life so that you could live forever with God.
Friend have you taken advantage of that? Do you believe that Jesus
is God's Son, the Savior of the world? Do you believe it to the point that
you'd make a commitment to turn from sin, change your life, and repent?
Having heard the word, believed in Jesus, and repented-would you confess
Jesus as the Savior of the world and Son of God? Would you be immersed
in water for the forgiveness of your sins?
Listen to what Peter said on that very first sermon on the day of
Pentecost. Peter said “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the
name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins.”
If you're hearing the message today, regardless of where you are the
world, and you need to obey the gospel- friend, we're urging you to do that.
Don't wait till tomorrow. Don't say ‘Almost or a more convenient time.’
Obey now what you know now, and you can become a child of God.
Study Questions for: “Acts: Lesson 8”
1. In Acts 26:2, how did Paul feel about standing in front of the
2. According to John 10:10, why did Jesus say He came?
3. According to John14:6, who do we get to God through?
4. According to Acts 4:12, who alone can we be saved through?
5. What will Jesus give us according to Matthew 11:28-30?
6. According to Acts 26:18, why did Jesus send them?
7. What’s the purpose of preaching the gospel according to Acts
8. What is able to save our souls according to James 1:21?
9. How does Paul deal with trial and tribulation in Acts 27:25?
10. According to 1 Corinthians 10:13, what does it say in times of trial