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SDA Sabbath School Lesson 13--3rd Quarter 2018--Journey to Rome
« on: September 21, 2018, 03:28:52 PM »
 Lesson 13 September 22-28

Journey to Rome

Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 13--3rd Quarter 2018--Journey to Rome
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2018, 07:04:21 AM »

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Acts 27, 28; Rom. 1:18-20.

Memory Text: “Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.” Acts 27:24

Paul had long wished to visit Rome, but his arrest in Jerusalem changed everything. By giving in to the legalistic pressure of the Jerusalem church leaders, he ended up in Roman custody for almost five years, including the time he spent on the sea journey to Italy. This change represented a severe blow to his missionary plans.

The apostles were not legalistic. They took their eyes off of Christ and feared the Jews when Paul came to town. Not abiding in Christ, they were cowards which cost the church the loss of one of its great pillars.

Despite the setback, Jesus Himself promised that the apostle would still testify of Him in Rome (Acts 23:11). Even when we fail Him, God may still give us another chance, though He does not always spare us from the consequences of our actions. Not only was Paul taken to Rome as a prisoner, but there is no biblical evidence that he ever went to Spain, as he had hoped to do (Rom. 15:24). After being released from what is known as the first Roman imprisonment, Paul would be arrested again, this time to suffer martyrdom (2 Tim. 4:6-8) under Nero in A.D. 67.

Paul did not fail God. He wrote most of the New Testament. The church leadership failed to do what was right and this caused Paul to be lost to the church. And, yes, they repented. God does not cut anyone off for one sin, unless it was the last sin of many before, and they cannot hear the still small voice calling to repent.

Yes, Paul made it to Rome, and while waiting in his house-prison to be tried before the emperor, he spoke, despite his chains (Eph. 6:20, Phil. 1:13), without hindrance to whoever came to him (Acts 28:30, 31), including important figures from Caesar’s household (Phil. 4:22).

Yes, God often turns Satan's work to good. How Satan must suffer when he finds his work has failed! As we close this quarter's Sabbath School lessons, let us thank God for the faithfulness of the Apostle Paul and the one whose life was given that Saul might become the Paul we all love and respect, Stephen. We learned in our study of Acts that through the love of Jesus, Stephen revealed that love to the chief of sinners, the Pharisee of Pharisees. It was the grace extended to Saul by Stephen that began in great measure the wooing of the Spirit that Saul found it hard to kick against.  "And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:60.

May we in like manner extend God's grace to others who despitefully use us.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, September 29.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 13--3rd Quarter 2018--Journey to Rome
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2018, 07:13:43 PM »
Sunday         September 23

Sailing to Rome

After about two years of confinement in Caesarea (Acts 24:27), Paul was to be sent to Rome. Judging by the first person plural and the richness of details used to describe the long and turbulent sea journey to Italy (Acts 27:1-28:16), Luke was accompanying Paul, as was another Christian named Aristarchus (Acts 27:2). Another important character in the story was the Roman centurion, Julius, who had other prisoners as well in his charge (Acts 27:1).

It was late summer when they departed. The Fast (Acts 27:9) refers to the Day of Atonement, in the second half of October. Because of the winter conditions, travel in the Mediterranean was normally avoided between November and March. This time, however, they faced difficulties from the beginning, and only after much delay they reached the small bay of Fair Havens, in the island of Crete (Acts 27:8 ).

Read Acts 27:9-12.

 27:9   Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished [them], 
 27:10   And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. 
 27:11   Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. 
 27:12   And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, [and there] to winter; [which is] an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. 

While in Fair Havens, how did Paul intervene in the story, and how was his intervention received?

Paul’s warnings went unheeded, and so they decided to sail westwards another 40 miles for a harbor (Phoenix), where they could winter with safety. Unfortunately, with a sudden change in the weather, they were caught in such a violent tempest that the crew had no option but to let the ship be driven southwest by the wind, away from land. Soon they began to throw the cargo overboard and even some of the ship’s gear in a frantic attempt to lighten it, as it was already taking on water. The situation was dramatic. After several days of scant daylight, poor visibility, heavy rain, and raging winds, without knowing where they were and in complete exhaustion, “all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.” Acts 27:20.

Read Acts 27:21-26.

27:21   But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. 
 27:22   And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of [any man's] life among you, but of the ship. 
 27:23   For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 
 27:24   Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 
 27:25   Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. 
 27:26   Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. 

What was Paul’s second intervention in the story?

In prophetic words, Paul told the crew a message he had just received from God. There was no reason to despair or lose hope. There would still be danger and loss, but all of them would survive.

Why would such a faithful and dedicated servant of the Lord like Paul have to suffer through so much?

There are two very good reasons. First, God wants us to grow in character. When we are truly converted, we have all of the fruits of the Spirit, not one is missing. But, while God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (in Christ), He will allow us to be tempted beyond what we have been tempted in the past. Why? It is  best to hear it straight from the Word: "we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience..." Romans 5:3.

God wants us to be more patient. Here we read that our tribulation brings forth more patience. God not only wants us to be more patient for ourselves, He also wants witnesses of the power of grace to bring forth Christian character that is not seen in the heathen, those who are not fully surrendered to Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit. "we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Romans 5:3-5.

The love of God is seen in His faithful witnesses ever brighter the more we are tested as long as we are abiding in Christ and the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

What lessons can we learn from his experiences?

The Bible is true and we will see the same in all who are fully surrendered to Christ. We are partakers of His divine nature at conversion and filled with the fruits of the Spirit. As we continue to abide in Christ, the fruits will become more abundant. Our trials for our good and His glory as long as we have given the whole heart to Him. The waves will not overflow us!
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 13--3rd Quarter 2018--Journey to Rome
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2018, 07:29:45 PM »
Monday          September 24

The Shipwreck

In his second intervention in the story, Paul assured all who were on board—276 people altogether (Acts 27:37)—that, though not everything would come out fine, there would be no casualties; only the ship would go down (Acts 27:22). Fourteen days later, the apostle’s words were fulfilled. Still under a terrible storm and with the ship completely adrift, the sailors sensed land was near, possibly because they could hear the noise of breakers (Acts 27:27). After a series of soundings, and fearing the ship would be driven against the rocks along the shore, they dropped four anchors from the back of the ship in order to reduce the speed; meanwhile, they desperately asked their gods for daylight to come (Acts 27:28, 29).

Read Acts 27:30-44.

 27:30   And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, 
 27:31   Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. 
 27:32   Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. 
 27:33   And while the day was coming on, Paul besought [them] all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. 
 27:34   Wherefore I pray you to take [some] meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. 
 27:35   And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken [it], he began to eat. 
 27:36   Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took [some] meat. 
 27:37   And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. 
 27:38   And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea. 
 27:39   And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. 
 27:40   And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed [themselves] unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. 
 27:41   And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves. 
 27:42   And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. 
 27:43   But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from [their] purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast [themselves] first [into the sea], and get to land: 
 27:44   And the rest, some on boards, and some on [broken pieces] of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land. 

What lessons are here for us in this story?

In the beginning of the journey, the centurion treated Paul well but had no reason to trust the apostle’s nautical judgment earlier in the trip. After two weeks, however, things were different. Paul had already gained the centurion’s respect with his prophetic intervention about the shipwreck (Acts 27:21-26), which was heading now to its fulfillment.

Paul urged the people on board to eat, otherwise they would not have the strength to swim and get ashore. Divine providence does not necessarily exempt us from doing what would normally be our duty. “Throughout this narrative a nice balance is maintained between God’s assurance of their safety and the efforts of the people involved to ensure it.”—David J. Williams, Acts (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), p. 438.

How does one "balance" what is God's part and what is our part? I think we ought to do what we can after we have prayed for God to give us wisdom and grace to do our part and for Him to do what we cannot do if it be for our good and His glory.

As morning approached, the sailors came in sight of land; it was a bay with a beach, where they decided to run the ship aground. The ship, however, never reached the beach. Instead, it struck a sandbar and ended up breaking apart by the force of the waves. The soldiers’ plan to kill the prisoners to prevent them from escaping was stopped by the centurion, mainly because of Paul. In the end, as God had promised, not a single life was lost.

What should it say to us about the power of Paul’s witness, and his character, that in a desire to keep Paul alive, the soldiers were forbidden to kill any of the prisoners?

It may be that the centurion one day became a Christian because of Paul's witness. Or maybe one or more of the soldiers, or prisoners, or islanders who learned of the miracle having been prophesied by Paul. Do we see the same witness today? If not, why not?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 13--3rd Quarter 2018--Journey to Rome
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2018, 09:48:32 AM »
Tuesday          September 25

In Malta

It was only upon reaching the shore that the survivors learned they were in Malta, a small island in the center of the Mediterranean, just south of Sicily. In the two weeks they had been adrift in the sea, yielded to the force of the wind, they had covered about four hundred seventy-five miles since Fair Havens, in Crete. Now they would have to wait out the three months of winter before continuing their journey (Acts 28:11).

Read Acts 28:1-10.

 28:1   And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. 
 28:2   And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. 
 28:3   And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid [them] on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 
 28:4   And when the barbarians saw the [venomous] beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. 
 28:5   And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. 
 28:6   Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. 
 28:7   In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. 
 28:8   And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. 
 28:9   So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: 
 28:10   Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded [us] with such things as were necessary. 

What happened to Paul on the island of Malta, and how was God able to use him?

The people of Malta were very friendly and hospitable, and their first action toward Paul and his group, who were all wet and cold, was to light a fire to warm them up; the temperature in Malta at this time of the year would not be higher than about 50°F.

The incident of the snake drew the people’s attention to Paul. At first, the local pagans viewed the fact that he was bitten as an act of divine retribution. They thought Paul was a murderer who had managed to escape from death by drowning but was still caught by the gods, or perhaps the Greek goddess Dike, the personification of justice and vengeance. Because the apostle did not die, he was hailed as a god, as had happened in Lystra several years before (Acts 14:8-18). Though Luke does not dwell on the episode, it is probably safe to assume that Paul took advantage of this situation to bear witness of the God he served.

Publius was either the Roman procurator of Malta or just a local dignitary, but he welcomed Paul and his companions for three days until they found a more permanent place to stay. At any rate, the healing of this man’s father gave Paul the opportunity to engage in a sort of healing ministry among the Maltese people.

In Luke’s account, there is no mention of a single convert or of any congregation Paul left behind when he departed from Malta. Such omission might be entirely coincidental, but it illustrates the fact that our mission in the world goes beyond baptisms or church planting; it also involves concern for people and their needs. This is the practical aspect of the gospel (Acts 20:35; compare with Titus 3:14).

Amen. Healing sets the stage for planting seed. We love people and want to help them, but we desire to see them healed spiritually also. Jesus did not see much fruit when He healed, but later many of these healed ones gladly accepted the truth being shared by the disciples after the cross. What can we learn from this? If we follow the example of Jesus as did Paul, we can expect if we use the health message as the "right arm" of the gospel the same results that were seen in the ministry of Christ and His disciples. Many do not know that meat, dairy, and eggs are a high risk for deadly diseases because many of the animals are sick and many of their diseases can infect humans who ingest these unsafe articles considered food. In the last 30 years of sharing this truth with friends and strangers, all but two have been thankful. Who would not want to know that we do not need to eat meat and drink milk in order to  be healthy. And, who would not want to know that cancer can come from a virus which can infect meat, dairy, and eggs?

How fascinating that these islanders, who were ignorant about God’s law, had a sense of divine justice. Where, ultimately, did that come from? See Rom. 1:18-20.

Bad things that happen to "good" people does not come from God, but from Satan. God allows it, so yes, it involved divine justice, but often people think God dealt out the pain. How very sad! Even Job thought God killed his children and made him sick.  We know better, so we ought to share the truth about God's character. The best way to do so is to reflect His character in our daily life. We may sin and misrepresent Him who gave all for us, but if we will abide in Him and He in us, then we shall reveal all of the fruits of His Spirit. What are those fruits?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 13--3rd Quarter 2018--Journey to Rome
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2018, 10:14:16 AM »
Wednesday          September 26

Paul in Rome, Finally

After three months in Malta, Paul and his companions were finally able to continue their journey (Acts 28:11). They arrived in Puteoli (Acts 28:13)—modern Pozzuoli, in the Bay of Naples—from where they would travel to Rome by road (see Acts 28:11-16).

The news of Paul’s approach quickly reached Rome, and from there a group of believers traveled several miles south to welcome him. Though he had never been to Rome, the apostle had numerous friends in the city: co-workers, converts, relatives, and many others who were very dear to him (Rom. 16:3-16). The meeting on the Appian Way must have been particularly moving, especially in view of the shipwreck and the fact that Paul was now a prisoner. As a result of such a unique demonstration of love and care on the part of his beloved friends, the apostle thanked God and felt deeply heartened as he was about to face trial before the emperor.

In his official report, Festus certainly must have written that according to Roman law, Paul was not guilty of any significant crime (Acts 25:26, 27; 26:31, 32). This probably explains why he was allowed to rent a private dwelling (Acts 28:30) instead of being sent to a regular prison or military camp, though after Roman fashion he was chained to a soldier the whole time. That Paul was at his own expense implies he was able to carry on his own trade (Acts 18:3).

Read Acts 28:17-22.

 28:17   And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men [and] brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 
 28:18   Who, when they had examined me, would have let [me] go, because there was no cause of death in me. 
 28:19   But when the Jews spake against [it], I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. 
 28:20   For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see [you], and to speak with [you]: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. 
 28:21   And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came showed or spake any harm of thee. 
 28:22   But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. 

What did Paul do as soon as he settled down?

Though Paul could not go to the synagogue, the synagogue could come to him. So, soon after his arrival, following his policy of going first to the Jews (Rom. 1:16), he called together the local Jewish leaders to state his innocence and explain, as he had done before, that he had been arrested for no reason other than the hope of Israel (Acts 23:6, 24:15, 26:6-8). His intention was not so much to defend himself as to create an atmosphere of trust that allowed him to preach the gospel, showing how Jesus’ resurrection was the fulfillment of Israel’s ancestral hope. Surprised that they had not received any information from Jerusalem about Paul, the Jews decided to hear him.

Read Acts 28:22.

But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.

What does this tell us about the hostility against the believers still at this time? How can we stay faithful even when others are talking against our faith?

The answer is always the same, we need to be found abiding in Christ and He in us. God tells us that "all" things work for our good as long as we are truly converted. And, if Christ be for us, who can be against us!!
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 13--3rd Quarter 2018--Journey to Rome
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2018, 08:04:25 AM »
Thursday          September 27

The Victory of the Gospel

On a set day, the Jews came in large numbers to hear Paul’s presentation of the gospel (Acts 28:23).

Read Acts 28:24-31.

 28:24   And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 
 28:25   And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 
 28:26   Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 
 28:27   For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 
 28:28   Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and [that] they will hear it. 
 28:29   And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. 
 28:30   And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 
 28:31   Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him. 

What was Paul’s point in quoting Isaiah in this context?

Israel was in a Laodicean condition and many could not be saved. They were rich and increased with goods and knew not they were wretched, and miserable, poor,  blind, and naked. Paul found others (Gentiles) who were open to the gospel and would repent of their sins. Jesus met with the same situation.

The Sanhedrin had rejected Christ’s message and was bent upon His death; therefore Jesus departed from Jerusalem, from the priests, the temple, the religious leaders, the people who had been instructed in the law, and turned to another class to proclaim His message, and to gather out those who should carry the gospel to all nations.
As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation. Again and again the history of Christ’s withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the Reformers preached the word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who were longing for the truth. In our day few of the professed followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teaching of the word of God. And many times those who are seeking for light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the church of their fathers, that they may render obedience.
The people of Galilee were despised by the rabbis of Jerusalem as rude and unlearned, yet they presented a more favorable field for the Saviour’s work.

Christ is bringing into His church those who are open to the gospel truth. We thank Jesus for those leaders in the church who are faithful to the gospel message. Those who have closed their minds have hardened their hearts and are moving further and further away from the simple truth of the power of God's grace to save to the uttermost all who come to Christ.

The quotation from Isaiah 6:9, 10 describes what happens when people refuse to accept the divine message. Though some Jews believed, others didn’t, and so, because of this great dispute, the apostle had no choice but once again to turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46, 47; 18:6).

Paul first went to the Jews because they had  been entrusted with the truth. So it is today. We too must first go to the church with the gospel message. Those who continue to reject the gospel we must leave joined to their idols and seek out those who have not yet heard of the power of God's love to transform their character. Those who continue to preach false gospels in the church will be separated from the work by the shaking that has begun. It is obvious who it is that refuses to accept the truth. They are moving further and further away from Bible truth.

The harvest field is white, let us pray God will raise up many leaders to take the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Paul had to wait two years to be tried by the emperor. Meanwhile, though restricted to his house-prison, he was still able to share the gospel without hindrance with those who came to him. The last scene of Acts is one that emphasizes the victory of the gospel, as no force, whether Jewish or Roman, had been able to stop its progress.

It is not clear why Luke finishes his book at this point, as there is evidence that, due to the weakness of the case against Paul, he was released from this imprisonment, went on another missionary journey, and was again taken to Rome and executed (2 Tim. 4:6-8). Perhaps, from the standpoint of Luke’s literary purpose, by having been preached even in distant Rome, the gospel had already reached “the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ).

“Paul’s patience and cheerfulness during his long and unjust imprisonment, his courage and faith, were a continual sermon. His spirit, so unlike the spirit of the world, bore witness that a power higher than that of earth was abiding with him. And by his example, Christians were impelled to greater energy as advocates of the cause from the public labors of which Paul had been withdrawn. In these ways were the apostle’s bonds influential, so that when his power and usefulness seemed cut off, and to all appearance he could do the least, then it was that he gathered sheaves for Christ in fields from which he seemed wholly excluded.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 464.

From the standpoint of the church’s mission, however, it could be said that the book of Acts—or the history of the spreading of the gospel—is not yet finished, and it is here that each one of us enters the picture. Many more exciting and dramatic chapters have been written throughout the centuries, sometimes with the blood of God’s faithful witnesses. Now it is our turn to add one more chapter, the last one (we hope!), and bring the mission Jesus left with the disciples to its full completion—“and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).

Amen. And, here lies the truth that we need to pray about. Are we open to the reception of truth? When we find truth that cuts across the natural heart, will we repent and walk in the light? There are many in the church who need to be re-baptized, and will see this and accept God's grace. They will be part of the organized church and take the last message or warning and mercy to a world soon to perish. Let us be a part of that great movement to prepare a people to receive Jesus as His soon coming!

    Imagine being the soldier chained to Paul. What do you think he saw in the man to whom he was so closely tied?

Was he like the Jews who saw nothing good in Paul, or did he see a reflection of Christ? Did he accept the gospel message or did he reject it and become a persecutor of Christians? He had the same opportunity we each have, to accept or reject the grace of God. What shall we do today?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 13--3rd Quarter 2018--Journey to Rome
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2018, 09:17:56 AM »
Friday         September 28

Further Thought: “Christ has given to the church a sacred charge. Every member should be a channel through which God can communicate to the world the treasures of His grace, the unsearchable riches of Christ. There is nothing that the Saviour desires so much as agents who will represent to the world His Spirit and His character. There is nothing that the world needs so much as the manifestation through humanity of the Saviour’s love. All heaven is waiting for men and women through whom God can reveal the power of Christianity.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 600.

Is it possible to "represent His character"? That is why Jesus came to this dark spot in the universe as a helpless  babe subject to the weakness of humanity at the risk of failure and eternal loss. His grace if allowed into the heart will cleanse it from all sin and unrighteousness. While we will still live in fallen human flesh, it is no excuse to not manifest all of the fruits of the Spirit. When we are truly converted they all will be in the life, not one will  be missing. We are partakers of the divine nature when filled with the Holy Spirit. Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance will be seen in all who love Jesus supremely. All heaven is waiting on us!

“Long has God waited for the spirit of service to take possession of the whole church so that everyone shall be working for Him according to his ability. When the members of the church of God do their appointed work in the needy fields at home and abroad, in fulfillment of the gospel commission, the whole world will soon be warned and the Lord Jesus will return to this earth with power and great glory.”—Page 111.

Amen!! How long ago was that written? Over a hundred years? Then why is it that Jesus has not come?

Discussion Questions:

    How does Luke portray Paul’s faith in God throughout the whole journey to Rome? How were others affected by such unconditional faith?

    Despite everything he had gone through, Paul never gave up his faith or his mission. In Rome, he continued to preach despite his limited freedom. What can we do when tempted to give up on our proclamation of the gospel to someone?

We will either praise God and continue to share the simplicity of the gospel, or we shall yield to the temptation. What will decide the matter? Who has the heart? If Jesus then we will not  be tempted b  beyond what we can bear. If self is alive and Jesus is not enthroned upon the heart, then we will sin.

    Read Romans 1:14, 15.

 1:14   I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 
 1:15   So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 

Why did Paul feel himself under obligation—or a debtor—to preach the gospel to everybody? Are we less obligated than he was? Consider this statement: “To save souls should be the lifework of everyone who professes Christ. We are debtors to the world for the grace given us of God, for the light which has shone upon us, and for the discovered beauty and power of the truth.”—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 53.

As we understand what is written, those who have been given great light are under a greater obligation to share it with the world. Paul had been given great light. But, the Bible tells us the light continues to get brighter until the end. We live in the time of the end. We have been entrusted with greater light than had come in Paul's time. Therefore, we are under greater obligation!

    Read again the passage from Isaiah that Paul used. How could this idea apply to us? Yes, we have been given a great deal of truth, but if we harden ourselves t o it, or even to aspects of it that might conflict with our own wishes or desires, what danger could we face spiritually?

We will be lost. Today, God is separating the goats from the sheep. How does He do this? He brings truth to the individual that then must decide to accept or reject it. As I have been considering constituency meetings that will take place this coming Sunday, I see great contrasts between conferences. Some are walking in the light, others have rejected light and are in rebellion. The rebellious conferences are falling deeper and deeper into apostasy. God allows this that the church members will have opportunity to know who is teaching truth and who is not. When practicing homosexuals are  baptized into the church, we can know that things are  not right and church leadership cannot be trusted. This is where we have come to in some conferences in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Pray that the voice of stern rebuke will be heard in these conferences and it will be voiced in love for the rebels. Revival and reformation is coming to all who will accept the gospel of grace. Let us pray for the Lord to raise up faithful leaders in His church, like Paul. Some will come from those who like Saul were resisting the pricks of the Spirit. It is grace revealed that transformed Saul into Paul. The power of grace has not been lost over the years since then. Today, God's Spirit working in the same manner as it did through Stephen and will accomplish similar results, the conversion of sinners into saints. I pray this is what we have learned while studying the book of Acts.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.