Expect God to Deliver
May 15, 2022
Sermon Recap PDF
 When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.  There were more than forty who made this conspiracy.  They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul.  Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”
 Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.  Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.”  So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, “Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you.”  The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?”  And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him.  But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him, who have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent.”  So the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, “Tell no one that you have informed me of these things.”
 Then he called two of the centurions and said, “Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night.  Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.”  And he wrote a letter to this effect:
 “Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings.  This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen.  And desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council.  I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment.  And when it was disclosed to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him.”
 So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.  And on the next day they returned to the barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him.  When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him.  On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia,  he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium. (ESV)
- The New Testament is clear. Every Christian is in a fierce battle. The opposition is the world, the flesh and the devil. These enemies oppose Christ and they oppose us.
- The world around us — is opposed to Christ. Now that doesn’t mean there is nothing good in the world: There are certainly many good things God has given in this world for us to appreciate and enjoy.
- It simply means that the world—with it’s values, systems, and philosophies is actively opposed to Christ and His Rule and Reign.
- The flesh — remaining sin within our hearts — is opposed to Christ as well. In a very real sense “I am my own worst enemy.” We are enticed by our own sinful desires to disobey and disregard God.
- To fill out the picture a little more— as you are well aware, when it comes to “the world” — we live in a culture that is increasingly hostile and antagonistic to the Christian faith.
- Satan and his demons are opposed to Christ as well (See Eph. 6). The Enemy tempts us daily in various ways to follow in the ways of the world— to embrace godless ideas and to follow our own sinful desires.
- So the world, the flesh, the devil — these are our enemies, our foes—>and they work in concert with one another to deter our progress and damage our witness.
- Our story today arms us with the scriptural mindset we need to persevere, to honor Christ and glorify Christ in the days ahead.
- This story reminds us—when it comes to the opposition we face and the enemies we face—we should expect two things:
I. Expect God to Deliver
- How amazing, the way God miraculously and powerfully delivered Paul from the hand of His enemies! His life was in great peril and God delivered him.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.” — Psalm 138:7
- As we have seen in Acts, the Apostle Paul knew this to be true, from experience more than once. An important lesson for us is this: As we seek to live for Christ, It is right and good for us, to expect God to deliver us from our enemies — whatever and whoever those enemies may be.
- We know, God in His sovereignty doesn’t always deliver us when we want and in the way we want. For purposes of His own, God will at times sovereignly allow enemies & opposition —in various forms — to linger.
- That said, we do well to observe— in God’s sovereignty, God not only allowed Paul to experience hostility, but He delivered Paul from his enemies many times as well.
- Remember in Philippi–Paul and Silas were thrown in jail and while they were in jail God sent an earthquake, and all the doors to the jail were opened, the jailer was miraculously converted and Paul and Silas were free.
- Speaking of yet another time he was delivered, the Apostle Paul said–
He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. — 2 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
- In the very next verse, Paul actually exhorts the Corinthians to be in prayer that he would continue to experience God’s deliverance in his ministry.
- The Apostle Paul didn’t presume He knew the sovereign will of God for his life, however He did know that His God was a God who delighted to deliver him from his enemies.
- It seems, the Apostle Paul lived with a faith-filled expectation—that around the corner—as he carried out the will of God–God likely had yet another deliverance in store for him.
- And keep in mind, he lived in a far more “negative world” so to speak than we do. You don’t get much more hostile to Christianity than the Sanhedrin against you — and the Zealots plotting to kill you.
- Even so, Paul still expected God to be at work in that hostile situation and to overcome enemies and get the gospel out and that is exactly what happened! It was in the midst of great opposition that the church of Christ was born and thrived!
- May God help us to live with that same kind of expectation.
- Even if hostility grows against the church in the days ahead–God wants to use us, our children, our grandchildren — to stand for truth, build God’s church and to get the gospel out—> And we can expect Him to grant us many deliverances along the way.
- May God help us to live with this kind of expectation with respect to enemies we may face personally as well.
II. Expect God’s sovereign purposes to prevail
“The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”” — Acts 23:11
- Here we gain insight into God sovereign purpose for the Apostle Paul.
- God’s purpose was to get Paul to Rome so that in Rome he could proclaim Christ.
- Prior to His ascension Jesus promised his disciples that they would be his witness “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).”
- The gospel getting to Rome at the end of Acts represented something important. It represented Jesus’ promise fulfilled. It represented the successful advance of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
- In the last verse of Acts, where do we find Paul but under house arrest in Rome “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”
- In our passage, the situation was more bleak…you had the Zealots… ready to take Paul out before he even left Jerusalem.
- Humanly speaking, Paul was no match for them. However—looking at it another way—the zealots — as crafty and as determined as they were—they were no match for the sovereign purposes of God.
- God put Paul’s nephew in a situation where he caught wind of the plot to murder Paul. Scheme effectively stopped. Paul still on his way to Jerusalem. God’s purpose still being fulfilled!
- The lesson here is profound — God’s sovereign purposes always prevail…every time…no exceptions….so we should expect them to prevail.
““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” -Job 42:2
- No matter what trials befall us or what enemies assail us— our confidence as Christians is ….”no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
- What a glorious truth…and a glorious truth that has great potential to stabilize and steady our souls when the reality of living in a “negative world” settles in upon us.
- Life is not as chaotic as it sometimes appears! Our Savior Jesus, is the sovereign King of all who is even now reigning over all. And His sovereign purposes for the world, for His church, and for our lives will be fulfilled.
- The enemies of Christ are no match for the purposes of God!
- The devil’s schemes will be defeated! The Great Commission will be completed! God’s church will be built and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!
- When it comes to the enemies we face personally, what a comfort to know…God sees and He knows. He is with us and He will in due time deliver us, if not in this life, certainly when we behold Him in glory.
- Until then may we faithfully seek God for deliverance with the psalmist who declared.
“I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” — Psalm 18:3
May God help us to put our trust for what’s going on in the world today as well as in our own lives—fully in Him, resting in His sovereign purposes, looking to Him for deliverance!
Questions for Discussion/Application:
- Re-read the text, Acts 23:12-35. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text.
- What does it look like practically for us to both trust in God’s sovereignty and live expectantly, looking to God for deliverance?
- What situations in your own life or in the world make you most feel your need for God to move and to deliver?
- In what ways are you currently praying and asking God do move in your own life or in the life of someone you know?
- Job 42:42 says – ““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” How can reflecting on God’s this verse help us in these times where the culture is increasingly antagonistic against Christianity? How can reflecting on this verse help us in terms of dealing with challenging situations we face personally?
- Consider taking time to pray–asking for God to move/deliver–and expressing trust in His sovereign control as well.