A sermon for the Watford church of Christ

1. Paul the ideal representative of Jesus – a regenerate life
v3: Snake: symbol of evil. Eden. Snake tried to kill Paul – a ‘risen’ man. Symbolic of the message of resurrection post-baptism (shipwreck)?
v5: Shook off the snake – Jesus shook off death’s curse
snake and sea (two evils) have no effect on Paul.
This new life is powerful
v9: So many parallels with Jesus. see Luke 4:38-41
“Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.” (Luke 4:38–41 NIV11)
vv15-16: Paul escorted like an Emperor arriving victorious
“The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged. When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.” (Acts 28:15–16 NIV11)
Fulfilling the prophecy of Jesus that the Gospel will go to the ends of the earth
“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.”” (Acts 1:8 NIV11)
v17: Opposed by the very people who should have been helping him
‘he’ – end of ‘we’ section. Is it significant? Had Luke left, or was he putting the spotlight more on Paul.
‘I’ is the first word in Paul’s sentence. This is a personal apologia. But not self-focussed. Only to get a hearing.
v23: All about the Gospel
‘witnessed to them’ – he was not interested in defending himself, but taking the opportunity to share the Gospel with them.
vv25-27: Stubborn Jews
Is 6 used by Jesus – recorded in all four Gospels – and with the same result
So like Jesus – but human and weak
Undignified landing on Malta
‘Encouraged’ by the people who came to greet him
Chained to a soldier
Did not decide most of his itinerary, route or timing
Unable to persuade all the Jewish leaders who came to see him
What is discipleship?
Walking in the power of a Christ-given new life
Our discipleship goal? Remind people of Jesus.

2. The Gospel is unhindered
All we say about Paul is true and important, but the most important thing is to demonstrate that nothing can hinder the Gospel
v31: Literally: “Proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and unhindered.”
Last word is ‘unhindered’ – only time used in NT
Acts ends with no resolution to Paul’s personal problems, but instead on the real point of the narrative, the continued strength and spread of the gospel. The focus must remain on the gospel and not on the personal.
What hindrances do you think Paul and the early church had to contend with?
What are some of ours?
Job – Gospel still unhindered
Health – Gospel still unhindered
Children – Gospel still unhindered
All areas for the Gospel – perhaps the main area for the Gospel. Are we aware of how God can do this? The opportunities he is giving us? If you are there, that’s where the Gospel is.
What is the essential nature of those hindrances?
Temporary; Human;
“All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.” Philippians 4:22
Probably written from Rome
What is our vision for an unhindered gospel in 2023?

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Is. 6:6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
We are unworthy to take this message, to live this life – but we are made ‘worthy’ because we have been touched

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm