By Mike Dawson
Interim Pastor, Santa Fe Baptist Church, Santa Fe
Years ago I was a part of the “Appalachian Preaching Mission,” where churches in the tri-cities of East Tennessee came together once a year to highlight gospel preaching. You’ll know it was many years ago when I tell you my role was to be the “school” preacher. I actually preached in assemblies at the various public schools every day. The main preacher for the evening gatherings that particular year was Manuel Scott. He was an African-American, very small in stature, with an unforgettable style of gestures and body movement. One of his sermons stays with me to this day: “The Save Some Strategy of the Church.” Using Paul’s phrase in I Corinthians 9:22 “that I might by all means save some,” Scott reminded us that our churches won’t reach everybody, but we’re to reach all we can.
The gospel strategy is to save “some.” That truth is very clear in our final lesson in the book of Acts. From Paul’s last days of ministry, our text reveals four truths:
Some go with the gospel (Acts 28:17-23). Today’s study begins after Luke’s dramatic words in verse 16: “Now when we came to Rome …” Paul’s missionary journeys had finally brought him to the Roman Empire’s capital city. This concluding leg of the journey — narrated in Acts 28 — had led Paul by way of a storm (v. 1), some strangers (v. 2), a snake (vv. 3-6), and sickness (vv. 7-10). In each incident, the miraculous power of Jesus worked wonders. Fellow believers were drawn to Paul all along the way (vv. 11-16).
Now at last in Rome, the Apostle Paul called the city’s Jewish leaders together and explained why he was there. They had not yet heard from their Jewish cohorts in Jerusalem concerning Paul, neither good nor bad, so they set a day to hear him; and — all day long — he preached Jesus to them (vv. 17-23). Paul was living life on mission, singing (as it were) “if Jesus goes with me I’ll go anywhere!”
Some go to the gospel (v. 24). “Some were persuaded” by Paul’s preaching. Jesus taught in the Parable of the Sower that seed in the good ground produced a crop — “some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred” (Mark 4:8). Here is the “save some” strategy of the gospel at work!
Some go from the gospel (vv. 24-27). “And some disbelieved.” How could anyone walk away doubting from the dynamic gospel preaching of Paul? The same way they did from Jesus! Just before issuing the Great Commission, Jesus gathered His followers; Matthew records (Matthew 28:17), “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” Even Isaiah of old knew this, and Paul’s quote verified it: there have always been (and will be) those who close their eyes and ears and hearts to the truth. Bill Bright defined witnessing as “sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.” This we must do, especially when some disbelieve!
Yet … nothing goes like the gospel! (Acts 28:28) “Alright then,” the Apostle essentially said, “the Good News you Jews have refused is now loosed … to the rest of the world; and they will hear it!”