Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the New Testament book of Acts—the account of the spiritual body of Christ—as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage is found in the twenty-eighth and final chapter of this New Testament book. “And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melina. And the barbarous. People shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. 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. 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 life. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after that had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. 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. And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered din, and prayed, and laid his hands on hill, and healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: who also honored us with many honors; and when we departed, they landed us with such things as were necessary” (Acts 28:1-10).
“And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to met us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage. And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered too dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him” (Acts 28:11-16).
“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 Jerusa.me into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. 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. And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. But we desire to hear of thee what thou thickest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening” (Acts 28:17-23).
“And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they d parted, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 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. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves” (Acts 28:24-29).
“And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31).
When you come to the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the book itself concluding and coming to an end. It is in the twenty-eighth chapter of this New Testament book you will find the narrative of the account of the spiritual body of Christ concluding and being brought to a close by Luke. If there is one thing that makes this incredibly unique and interesting when you take the time to consider it is how the New Testament book of Acts would begin with at least one-hundred and twenty together in the upper room after Jesus Himself had ascended unto the right hand of the Father. What’s more is that after the events which took place at the mount of Olivet where Jesus taught and instructed His disciples before being taken up into heaven by the Father those who were present would indeed return unto the city of Jerusalem based upon instruction which was given unto them by the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be the Lord Jesus Christ who would indeed instruct them to tarry and abide in the city of Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. The Lord Jesus taught and instructed them to abide and tarry in the midst of the city of Jerusalem for a very specific reason and purpose for it would be in the city of Jerusalem they would indeed experience the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. Oh this is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when considering how the book of Acts begins as well as how the book of Acts concludes for while the story and narrative of the early church would indeed begin in and with the city of Jerusalem it would continue and ultimately reach the city of Rome.
If you read the words which are found in the final chapter of this New Testament book you will find that the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ was never intended on remaining in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. The word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus was never intended on remaining in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and even Jesus Himself—when speaking unto His disciples and followers—declared unto His disciples and followers that they would be witnesses both in Jerusalem, then in all Judaea, then in Samaria and ultimately unto the uttermost parts of the earth. While it was indeed true they were to tarry and abide in Jerusalem until they received power after the Holy Ghost came upon them they were never intended on remaining nor abiding there indefinitely. There is something about the New Testament book of Acts and how within it we find the early church being brought into existence and birthed in an upper room in the city of Jerusalem when the person and presence of the Holy Spirit was manifested and present among them. It would be there in the city of Jerusalem in an upper room where about one-hundred and twenty were gathered together in the upper room when the sound as of a mighty rushing wind would fill the room where they were. What’s more is that not only would the sound of a rushing mighty wind fill the room where they were but they were all filled with the Holy Spirit as He would be poured out and released from the right hand of the Father by the Lord Jesus. In addition to this we find how on the day of Pentecost there were cloven tongues of fire which rested upon each of those present and they each spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it would be on the day of Pentecost where we find and read of the origin and birth of the church of Jesus Christ—a church which He Himself spoke of saying He would build it when speaking unto the disciples after Simon Peter’s confession in Caesarea Philippi.
Based upon what has been written thus far I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to certain passages which are found within the New Testament gospel narratives written by the gospel authors as well as the words which are found here in the New Testament book of Acts. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the absolutely wonderful truth that is found in the final chapters of the three Synoptic gospels as well as the words which our Lord Himself spoke unto the disciples and followers at the mount called Olivet prior to His ascension unto the right hand of the Father. Each of these passages helps set the stage for the manifestation of the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit which and who would come on the day of Pentecost. It would be on the day of Pentecost the Lord would do exactly what He promised and declared He would do for on that particular day He would release the person of the Holy Spirit—first upon those who were gathered together in the upper room. In the first chapter of the New Testament book we read of about one-hundred and twenty who were present in the midst of the upper room in the city of Jerusalem when the apostle Peter would stand up and speak unto the brethren concerning the office of Judas which must needs be given to another. The second chapter of this New Testament book doesn’t necessarily reveal there were one-hundred and twenty which were present in the room—only that they were gathered together in one accord. It would be on the day of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit would indeed be manifested and poured out upon those who were present. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found—first in the gospel narratives written by John mark and the apostle Matthew and then the words which are found in the gospel narrative written by Luke as well as the book of Acts which was written by the same author:
“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:16-20).
“Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:14-20).
“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:44-53).
“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by man infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Sarnia, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they b held, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of ALphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:1-14).
It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the tremendous and incredible truths which are found here in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of the instruction that was given unto the disciples and followers of Jesus during those final days in which He was present among them. After Jesus was raised from death to life He would manifest Himself unto and among them over a period of forty days as He wouldn’t be raised from the dead and then immediately ascend unto heaven and unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. The Lord Jesus would indeed abide among and with them for forty days teaching and instructing them as He would undoubtedly prepare and make them ready—not only for the arrival of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit but also for their mission and assignment in the earth. Despite the fact that Jesus would indeed ascend unto heaven and unto the right hand of the Father He would essentially leave His mantle behind Him upon those who had walked with and followed Him. What we must needs understand, however, is that this mantle wasn’t merely left for the twelve apostles nor was it left for those who were present within the upper room. IT would be very easy to think that Jesus left his mantle for the twelve apostles and perhaps even for the early church who would take up and carry the work which He had begun during those three and a half years He walked upon the earth. The truth of the matter, however, is that this mantle would indeed be left for and made available unto all those who believed on the name of Jesus of Nazareth, unto all those who confessed the name of the Lord Jesus and unto all those who believed with their heart that the living and eternal God did in fact raise Jesus form the dead on the third day.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the mantle which would be left by Jesus—and not only which would be left by Jesus but which would be given by Him unto those who would believe in His name and would continue the work which He had begun upon and within the earth. What we find and read in the New Testament book of Acts calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost as all those who were present in the midst of it would indeed be filled with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus spoke unto His disciples and followers He would indeed tell them they would be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence and He did speak unto them of how they would receive power after that the Holy Ghost would come upon them, however, He provided no additional details as to how it would happen, when it would happen, what to expect nor even what to look for as it approached and ultimately was manifested unto and among them. Oh the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts presents us with the account of the day of Pentecost and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit which would indeed come unto and among those who were present in the upper room. IN order to truly understand where the New Testament book of Acts concludes I am absolutely convinced we must needs understand and recognize how it begins for it would indeed begin in the midst of the city of Jerusalem with about one-hundred and twenty being gathered together in one accord in an upper room in one accord and in prayer. It would be in the second chapter of this New Testament book we not only read of those in the upper room being baptized with the Holy Spirit, not only speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, but we also read of the preaching of the apostle Peter and how three thousand souls were added unto the church on that first day. With this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the opening verses of the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen Og Aveo five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostles, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:1-13).
It is in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints we find that after Jesus was raised from death to life He appeared unto and showed Himself alive unto Peter and the other apostles. With this being said we also find the apostle Paul writing of how during those forty days after He was raised from the dead he would show Himself alive unto upwards of five hundred brethren at one time—some of whom were alive even during the time the apostle Paul wrote those words. With this being said it is imperative to recognize when reading the words found in the first and second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts that after Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven the disciples would return unto the city of Jerusalem and would be gathered together in one accord, in prayer and fellowship. What’s more is that in the first chapter we read of there being about one-hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room at the time Matthias was chosen to replace Judas among the apostles. In the second chapter we find Luke writing of how “when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” There have indeed been those who would assume that there were exactly one-hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room, however, Scripture offers no indication that there were indeed one-hundred and twenty souls which were present in the upper room. The only thing we find was that they were all with one accord in one place, how the rushing mighty wind filled all the house where they were sitting, how there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it same upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
OH please don’t miss and lose sight of the use of the words “they” and “them” found within this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the truth that there were indeed much people who were present in the upper room. We know that there would have been the twelve apostles as well as perhaps the two men whom Jesus had met while walking together with them on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. We also know there there would have most likely been certain women who walked with and followed Jesus and ministered unto His needs while He was still present among them. It must also be understood that Mary the mother of Jesus as well as His brethren were also present there in the midst of the upper room when the day of Pentecost had fully come. What we also know was that when the day of Pentecost was fully come “they” [meaning all those who were present in the upper room] were with one accord in one place. It would be on the day of Pentecost when there would come a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled all the house where they were sitting. Moreover there would appear unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. Not only this but they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Oh it is absolutely necessary to recognize and understand this for the story, the account and the narrative of the spiritual body of Christ does indeed begin within the city of Jerusalem with the apostles together with certain women, Mary the mother of Jesus, Jesus’ brethren and others as they would indeed be filled with the Holy Spirit and would speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
If you continue reading the words which are found in the second chapter you will find the apostle Peter standing up in the midst all those who were present in the midst of Jerusalem and had gathered themselves unto those who were in the upper room wondering what all this could mean. The apostle Paul would indeed proclaim unto them the words which had been prophesied and spoken by the prophet Joel before preaching unto them Jesus of Nazareth whom they crucified and allowed to be killed and crucified. It would be as a direct result of the preaching of the apostle Peter on that particular day that three thousand souls would believe, would be baptized and would be added unto their number. This is something which we must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the work which would begin on the day of Pentecost as three-thousand souls would be added to the brethren who were present in the upper room when the day of Pentecost had fully come. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this chapter beginning with the twenty-second verse for it can and will help you to know and understand how and where the story and narrative of the spiritual body of Christ truly did begin in the city of Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit was indeed manifested and released within the earth. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this chapter that you might understand and recognize the truly wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the preaching of the apostle Paul, the addition of three thousand souls which believed and were baptized, and the work of the Holy Spirit to foster and facilitate community and fellowship together among all those who were part of the early church:
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be Holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me fully of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:22-36).
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:37-40).
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were gathered together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47).
It is absolutely necessary we call and draw our attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the preaching of the apostle Peter concerning the person of Jesus of Nazareth. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit would indeed fill those who were present in the upper room and they would speak with other tongues as they were given utterance. What’s more is that when we read of the beginning of the early church which was presented in the second chapter we find how three thousand souls were added unto their number and were baptized. Imagine being the apostles and baptizing about three thousand souls who believed on the name of the Lord Jesus and what that would have indeed looked like. Stop and consider what it would have been like for at least twelve men to baptize three thousand souls in a single day as they would be added unto the number of those who were present in the upper room. What’s more is that when you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find an even greater work of the Holy Spirit which was manifested unto and among them. Beginning with the forty-first verse of this chapter you will read how those who gladly received the word of the apostle Peter were baptized and that same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Moreover you will also read how they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and prayers. Not only this but fear came upon every soul and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. All those who believed were together and had all things common and sold their possessions and good and parted them to all men as every man had need. In addition to this we find that they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart as they praised God. Those who were present in Jerusalem from the day of Pentecost on would praise God and have favor with all the people as the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
There is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words which we see here in this passage of Scripture for it describes how the early church would indeed have its beginning in the midst of the city of Jerusalem as all those who were gathered together in one accord in the upper room on the day of Pentecost would be filled with the Holy Ghost and would speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. What’s more is that within this second chapter we read of the apostle Peter preaching the word, the gospel and the name of Jesus the Christ and how about three thousand souls would believe and would be baptized and added unto their number. In addition to this we find what I am convinced is perhaps the single greatest work of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost—and not only on the day of Pentecost but also from the day of Pentecost on. It would be beginning with and on the day of Pentecost we read of the wonderful and mighty work of community and fellowship which was present among those who were gathered together in Jerusalem. From the day of Pentecost the brethren and those who were present in the midst of Jerusalem would gather together in the Temple, would break bread from house to house and would commit themselves to fellowship with one another. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize and understand that the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus wasn’t intended to remain within the city of Jerusalem. It was Jesus Himself who declared that they would be witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth. The spiritual body of Jesus Christ could not remain, abide nor even grow the way it was intended on growing in the city of Jerusalem alone. The spirit body of Christ was never meant nor was it intended to remain in the city of Jerusalem and it would eventually explode outside of and beyond the city of Jerusalem. With this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the opening verses of the eighth chapter as well as the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of this New Testament book. Consider if you will the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture and the catalyst which would indeed cause the spiritual body of Christ to explode and expand beyond the city of Jerusalem alone:
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution again as the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and hailing men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:19-26).
What we find within these two passages of Scripture is the beginning of the movement of the spiritual body of Christ beyond the borders and boundaries of the city of Jerusalem. It was indeed true that within the first seven chapters of this New Testament book we read of the events which would take place within the city of Jerusalem as the early church would have its roots and foundations there in that ancient city, however, what we must needs recognize and understand is that the early church was never intended on remaining in the city of Jerusalem alone. It was Jesus Himself who declared that his disciples would indeed be witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and ultimately unto Samaria and the uttermost part of the earth. The first seven chapters of this New Testament book presents us with the reality of the early church being formed and created in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and upwards of five thousand souls being added with multiples of men and women being added unto the church daily such as should be saved. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that eventually there would come a point when the church would indeed expand beyond and outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem. This would indeed come to pass and take place in the eighth chapter when we read of a great persecution coming up against the church which was at Jerusalem. As a direct result of this persecution they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria. Oh we must needs recognize and pay attention to this for what we find here is the beginning of the fulfillment of the words of Jesus who would declare that they would be witnesses unto Him in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and in Samaria. Within the eighth chapter we find the early church save the apostles being scattered abroad throughout all the regions of Judaea and Samaria as they went everywhere preaching the word. Here in this passage of Scripture we find the beginning of the expansion of the spiritual body of Christ into the regions of Judaea and Samaria—a reality which would ultimately be manifested within this same chapter as we read of Philip the evangelist who would preach the word and gospel of Jesus in Samaria. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage beginning with the fifth verse of the eighth chapter:
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done” (Acts 8:5-13).
“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word o FGod, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as ye he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. And they when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans” (Acts 8:14-25).
Please pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here within it is the beginning of the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus being preached in Samaria—just as the Lord Jesus Christ had declared. The Lord Jesus emphatically declared how His disciples and followers would indeed be witnesses in all Judaea and in Samaria and what we find here in this passage of Scripture calls and draws our attention to the truth surrounding Philip the evangelist preaching the word and name of the Lord Jesus in the midst of Samaria. What’s more is that the Lord would work together with Philip confirming the preaching of the word with healing, signs and miracles. In addition to this you will find the apostles which were present in Jerusalem hearing how Samaria had received the word of God and they would send unto them Peter and John. It would be when Peter and John came down they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. Luke writes how as of yet the Holy Ghost was not fallen upon any of them—only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Luke also writes how when Peter and John laid their hands upon those in Samaria they would receive the Holy Ghost. Thus what we find here in this passage of Scripture is an incredibly unique and powerful picture of the word, the gospel and the name of Jesus being manifested in Samaria thus fulfilling the words which the Lord Jesus spoke. In addition to this we also find the manifestation of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit as the apostles Peter and John would lay their hands upon them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. There in Samaria—not only would the word, the gospel and name of Jesus of Nazareth be preached but they would also receive the Holy Spirit thus presenting us with the further expansion of the spiritual body of Christ even in Samaria.
If you continue reading the New Testament book of Acts you will find that the word, the gospel and the name of Jesus would expand beyond the city of Jerusalem and would be preached in the regions of Judaea and Samaria. By the time we come to the tenth chapter we find the word, the gospel and the name of Jesus being preached in all Judaea and in all Samaria. What’s more is that it might even be said that the word of God would begin expanding beyond Judaea and Samaria as the apostle Paul would preach Jesus in the synagogues unto the Jews which were in the city of Damascus. As we approach the tenth chapter we find Philip preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus in the midst of Samaria while in the ninth chapter we find Saul of Tarsus preaching the word and name of the Lord Jesus in the midst of the city of Damascus before ultimately returning unto the city of Jerusalem as one who was changed and transformed by the person and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we come to the tenth chapter of this New Testament book we find another shift and transition taking place in the narrative and account of the early church. In the tenth and eleventh chapters we find the account of the word, the name and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ being preached and brought unto Gentiles. It is in the tenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Peter being instructed of the Lord to journey unto Caesarea where he would find and discover that for which he would be called to do. Of course we know and understand that what the apostle Peter would indeed be called to do was preach the word, the gospel and the name of Jesus unto Gentiles for the first time since the day of Pentecost had fully come. This would indeed mark the first time the word and name of Jesus would be preached unto the Gentiles as the apostle Peter would not only preach and baptize them in the name of Jesus but would also pray for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in the tenth and eleventh chapters of this New Testament book:
“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius thy p rather is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all her present before God, to hear. All things that are commanded of God” (Acts 10:25-33).
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of person: but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all) that word, I say, ye know which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: HIM God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:34-44).
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days” (Acts 10:44-48).
“And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, a Certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: upon the which when I had fasted mine eyes, I considered, and saw four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I hear da voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answere me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. And, behold, immediately, there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. And the spirit bad me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: and he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. And as I began to speak, The Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what as I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:1-18).
There is a great need for us to recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find the beginning of the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus being preached unto the Gentiles. What’s more is that not only do we find the word and name of the Lord Jesus being preached unto Gentiles but we also find the beginning of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit unto them as well. Up until this point the word and name of the Lord Jesus was only preached to the Jews and the Holy Ghost had only come upon the Jews and the Samaritans. What we find now, however, is something entirely and altogether different for we find the name of Jesus being manifested unto the Gentiles and we find the Holy Ghost being poured out upon them. This is something which warrants strong consideration for when you examine the life and narrative of the apostle Paul you will find that He Himself was ordained and appointed as an apostle unto the Gentiles. As the living and eternal God had ordained and appointed Jeremiah as a prophet unto the nations so also would the living God ordain and appoint the apostle Paul unto the Gentiles. The apostle Paul would indeed be specifically called, ordained and appointed as an apostle unto the Gentiles and it would be He who would take the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus unto the Gentiles during each of his apostolic and missionary journeys. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for this call unto the Gentiles would of course bring him unto what is called Greece in our modern day as well as what is called Turkey in our modern age. What’s more is that as you continue reading the words which are found in this book you will find that this apostle unto the Gentiles would indeed be sent further than he perhaps could have imagined for the apostle Paul would indeed be brought all the way to Rome itself. The apostle Paul had preached in Athens which was the capital of the Grecian Empire prior to the Roman Empire overtaking it and the apostle Paul would ultimately come unto Rome which was the capital city of the Roman Empire.
I sit here today thinking about the incredible truth surrounding the apostle Paul and how this apostle would indeed be ordained and appointed as an apostle unto the Gentiles just as Jeremiah would indeed be ordained and appointed as a prophet unto the nations. Of course we know and understand that Jeremiah wouldn’t actually journey unto the nations unto which he prophesied despite the fact that during the days of the Babylonian invasion and the captivity and exile of his people he would indeed be brought down unto Alexandria in the land of Egypt. The living God ordained and appointed Jeremiah as a prophet unto the nations while in the New Testament we find the apostle Paul himself being ordained an apostle unto the Gentiles—one who would take the word, the gospel and the name of Jesus unto the Gentiles in what is considered Europe and Asia in our generation today. We must needs recognize and understand this for what would begin in the city of Jerusalem would ultimately manifest itself in the capital city of Rome. What’s more is that this isn’t just true of the spiritual body of Christ and the word and name of the Lord Jesus but it was also true of the apostle Paul himself. The apostle Paul would indeed return from Damascus and preach the gospel there in the midst of the city unto the Jews, however, by the time this New Testament book concludes it does so with the apostle Paul arriving in Italy and being brought to the capital city of Rome. It would be there in Rome the apostle Paul would indeed preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and this apostle unto the Gentiles would be given free reign to preach and teach that which he had aforetime taught unto the Jews and Gentiles in the various places whereunto he had journeyed. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which describe Jeremiah being ordained a prophet unto the nations as well as the apostle Paul being ordained and appointed as an apostle unto the Gentiles:
“Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a proph;et unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: :for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:4-10).
Consider now the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts concerning the apostle Paul and his being ordained, appointed and called to be an apostle unto the Gentiles to carry the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus unto them:
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16).
“And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:42-44).
“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word o God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained too eternal life believed” (Acts 14:46-48).
“And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples” (Acts 14:27).
“Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them” (Acts 15:12).
“Simeon hath declare how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from formication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:19-21).
“And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified of the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles” (Acts 18:4-6).
“And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry” (Acts 21:17-19).
“And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles” (Acts 22:17-21).
“And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to. Kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other thanks that those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:14-23).
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to bring us to the twenty-eighth and final chapter of this New Testament book. It is when we come to the twenty-eighth chapter of this book we find the apostle Paul together with the two-hundred and seventy-six souls who were aboard the ship surviving the storm and making it safely to land. It would be there upon the island they would encounter a barbarous people who showed them no little kindness as they kindled a fire and received every one who had made it to the island because of the rain as well as the cold. What we find in this particular passage is the apostle Paul gathering a bundle of sticks and laying them on the fire, however, a viper came out of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand they thought among themselves that this man was a murderer who—although he escaped the sea vengeance had not suffered him to live. What we find next, however, is the apostle Paul shaking the venomous beast into the fire and felt no harm. This apostle who had shaken the dust off his feet in the various cities unto which he had come from the people who did not receive him would now shake a viper into the fire and suffering no harm. Pause and consider how absolutely incredible this truly is for the apostle Paul who would shake the dust off his feet would now shake a venomous viper which had fastened on to his hand off it—and not only shake it off his hand but shake it off into the fire. It would have been one thing for the apostle Paul to shake the venomous beast off and it simply move off into the brush, or the trees, or the landscape of the island, however, the apostle Paul would indeed shake it off into the fire. How absolutely incredible it is that this apostle who was ordained to venture unto the city of Rome itself would shake a venomous beast off his hand into the fire and would experience and suffer no harm or side effects from it. The Lord would undoubtedly protect the apostle Paul from the venom and poison of this beast and what we find is the apostle Paul not only escaping the storm which came upon the sea but also shaking off the serpent.
SURVIVING THE STORM AND SHAKING THE SERPENT OFF! There is a great need to recognize and understand the words which we see in both the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth chapter of the book of Acts for within it we find the apostle Paul being called to bear witness in Rome and while on the way to Rome—not only would he survive a storm but he would also shake a venomous serpent off his hand. I am absolutely convinced that this is something we have a great need of recognizing and paying close attention to when reading these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to that which we can and will face in the days in which we are living. I am absolutely convinced that we as the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ must needs prepare ourselves in these days for storms and serpents. There is not a doubt in my mind that within this generation we can and will face dangers and threats from storms that threaten to drown and destroy as well as serpents which can and will seek to harm us. Please note that when I speak of this I am not necessarily speaking of literal storms and physical serpents but am speaking spiritually and symbolically. I firmly believe that in these days we must needs prepare ourselves for the various storms that can and will raise themselves up against us as well as prepare ourselves for the presence of serpents. There will be storms that will rise up against us that will seek to drown and destroy us and cause us to be overwhelmed by the flood while there will indeed be serpents that will strike against and upon us. What’s more is that just as the apostle Paul was indeed caught in the midst of the storm and just as the serpent was indeed permitted to not only strike at Paul but also fasten on to his hand—neither were able to destroy him.
I am convinced there are men and women among us who have experienced certain storms within their lives over previous weeks, months and even years. What’s more is I am convinced there are men and women among us who have experienced certain times when serpents have come out of the heat and come out of the fire seeking to strike them in this life. While it might indeed be true that you have survived the storms you have faced in the past and while it might also be true that you have survived those times when serpents have sought to destroy you by striking at you from the midst of the heat there are coming times and days ahead when you can and will face both the storm(s) and the serpent(s). THE STORM AND THE SERPENT! THE STORMS AND THE SERPENTS! I firmly believe that we are living in and are preparing to enter into days where the storms can and will intensify within our lives—and not only intensify but might also last for extended periods of time. The storm which the apostle Paul and the others found themselves in lasted over fourteen days before they were able to escape to the land—some by swimming and others by using the broken parts of the ship as flotation devices to guide themselves to the shore. What’s more is even when the apostle Paul made it safely to the shore there would be a venomous serpent that would come forth from the heat and would latch itself on to the apostle’s hand. The apostle would indeed be unmoved by this venomous beast and would merely shake it into the fire without feeling any harm, or swelling or even collapsing to the ground in death. The apostle Paul would not be drowned in the sea nor would the apostle Paul be struck dead by the venomous serpent which came out of the heat and struck him there on the island. This is something which we must needs recognize and understand for we as those who walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ—although we may have faced storms and serpents before—must needs prepare and make ourselves ready for storms and serpents in the coming days. I do not for one minute believe the days of storms and serpents are over for the days which are ahead—even the days which are presently upon us—are days which are steeped in a variety of storms and a host of serpents.
If there is one thing I feel compelled to encourage you with this day it’s not only that there is strength within you but there is also endurance, strength, resilience, courage, faith and confidence you didn’t even know you had. I am absolutely convinced that you have in fact been brought through the storms of your past and you have in fact survived the attacks of serpents within your life, however, all of that has indeed prepared you for this moment which you are living in right now. Just as the lion and the bear prepared David for the Philistine giant Goliath so also the storms and serpents of your past have prepared you for the storms and serpents you have yet to face. We must needs recognize there is a call upon our lives—a call that did not originate from man but from the very heart and mind of God. This call is without repentance and there is absolutely no unclean or foul spirit, no demon, no principality, no ruler of darkness, no spiritual wickedness that can ever take that away from us. I am convinced that greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world and that we are in fact more than conquerors. There is absolutely nothing that can and shall separate us from the love of God and we have been called to walk in the rest, walk in the peace and walk in the quietness of that truth within our lives. We must acknowledge this within ourselves—particularly and especially in the coming days—for we can and will find ourselves facing storms and serpents once more. There is absolutely no denying this reality, however what we must acknowledge and recognize is that we have been given strength, we have been given courage, we have been given boldness, we have been given faith, we have been given trust and we have been given confidence to be able to withstand the storms and the serpents we can and will face in the days ahead. In addition to this we would be incredibly naïve to think that just because we survived storms in the past we cannot and will not survive storms in the coming days. We would be naïve to think that just because we have survived serpents in the past we cannot and will not encounter serpents in the days ahead. Moreover we must not be naïve to think that because we have survived the storm there is not and will not be a serpent waiting to strike out against us. Oh that we would be men and women full of faith, full of the Holy Ghost, full of wisdom and discernment and that we would walk in the path and footsteps ordained for us by our God who is indeed faithful to bring us through every trial, trouble and tribulation we face.