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Sermon Recap | Acts 28

 

At the beginning of this book, Luke reminds Theophilus of his former book concerning the life of Christ (1:1). That book of course was the Gospel of Luke. Luke says that in that book he wrote about all that Jesus “began to teach.” Presumably the book of Acts is the record of what Jesus continued to do and teach through his Apostles. To what end did Luke compose a record of Jesus’ continued Acts? Again he explained in Luke 1:4, “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” In other words Luke wrote these books in order to remove all excuses for rejecting Jesus Christ as the Messiah. At the end of this great book we have been studying Luke makes that point abundantly clear. All the proof that anyone could ask to prove Jesus is the Christ has been provided. All that remains is for you to believe it. Today the Lord will call you to trust Christ and you must respond or you may never hear it again.

In response to the unbelief of his Jewish audience, Paul quotes from Isaiah 6 which demonstrates that belief in Christ is never produced by mounting up enough evidence but rather by the supernaturally gracious work of the Holy Spirit who grants faith and repentance.



I. Excuses Removed (26)

Bertrand Russell, the skeptical philosopher of the last century, was once asked what he would say to God should he meet him after death. Russell answered, “Not enough evidence.” In the book of Acts alone there is more than enough evidence to prove the truth of the Gospel.  

Heard (23)

In the Old Testament God equipped his people with criteria for testing the prophets. We find those tests clearly delineated in Deuteronomy 13 and 18. One of the proofs of a true prophet was whether what he prophesied came true. If what the prophet foretold did not come true, then God gave his people permission to dismiss everything else the prophet said. The recognition that fulfilled prophecy was a supernatural event was something recognized by other cultures too (Ez. 21:21). Prediction and fulfillment as a necessary proof of divine approval is a central motif in the book of Isaiah from which Paul quotes at the end of our text. At one point Isaiah mocks all competing religions by calling on their idols to prove themselves by predicting the future (Is. 41:21ff; cf. 46:10; 48:3, 5). 

So if Paul claims to be an Apostle which is effectively a New Testament prophet and authoritative author of Scripture then we need to see his predictions fulfilled. To do so, we need not look far from our text. Every detail Paul predicted about the shipwreck was fulfilled—the ship ran aground, not one person was harmed, and he made it to Rome (Acts 27:10, 21-26, 34). If any one of those predictions failed then everything Paul wrote could be dismissed (close did not count in judging prophets). Therefore, Paul passes the first test.  

Seen (1-10)

Another test for a prophet or one who spoke and wrote Scripture was whether he could work miracles to confirm that what he said was from God. God gave his prophets miracle-working ability in order to validate Scripture. When the canon was closed, that ability ceased to exist. While miracles still happen by God’s decision, no one since the death of the last Apostle has been able to work true miracles at will. 

Miracles: This is exactly the way the Apostles speak of and use miracles in the book of Acts. They are secondary to the preaching of the Gospel; intended primarily to confirm the message. As we have learned, Paul was not a naturally compelling speaker. However, his words were convincing and effective because they were accompanied by “divine power” (1 Co. 2:4; 1 Th. 1:5). Therefore, Paul passes the second major test—uncontested miracles confirm that his message concerning the resurrection of Christ is from God. 



II. Essential Revival (27)

Our text not only reveals the grace of God in accommodating himself to our weak faith by confirming his Word through prophecy and miracles, it also exposes the rebellion of the human heart. The Scriptures make clear that God has revealed enough of himself in the creation to cause men to seek him and they further declare that he has put a witness of himself within every person’s conscience. However, each person has turned to his own way and insists on being his own god. The only way we are ever turned to the Lord is for him to turn us. He must take away our hearts of stone and give us new ones that respond lovingly to him.

God told Isaiah that without God’s supernatural intervention, people would listen to prophecy and observe miracles forever and still deny that they were indicative of truth.

Repentance

The Bible makes it clear that repentance must be granted as a gift of grace. We will never turn from our intoxication to self and sin unless God enables us to do so. We have noted in our study that Luke speaks of repentance in just that way; it must be granted by a sovereignly gracious God (Acts 5:31; 11:18). If you would be saved, you must pray for God to grant you repentance. 

Faith

Faith is also a gift of grace. It is not just knowledge (assent), but rather a whole life commitment to the fact that Jesus must save you from your sins and rule your life (consent). We are so imprisoned to our rebellion that God must first enable us to believe we are as desperate for grace as the Bible says and then cause us to give up our insistence on ruling our lives. Luke has told us that only those God sovereignly calls believe (Acts 13:46), that God must “open” the heart (Acts 16:14), and that the Spirit is the one who must “convince” (18:27; 28:24, 28). If you would be saved, you must pray for God to grant faith. Otherwise, you will continue listening and seeing and never live.

The French atheistic philosopher Voltaire boasted of his confidence in his own opinions, “In twenty years Christianity will be no more.  My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear.”  He claimed that in fifty years no one would even remember Christianity.  However, fifty years after Voltaire made his boasts, the house in which Voltaire put his poisonous pen to paper became the headquarters for the Geneva Bible Society!  Obviously Christianity has not been dismantled; the Gospel flourishes.