Sermon Title: The Hope
Text: Acts 20:17-20
“After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, ‘Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar-though I had no charge to bring against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain’” (Acts 28:17-20, ESV).
The world is a scary place. People in our church family are struggling with different kinds of anxieties and concerns. Perhaps it’s an upcoming medical test, a troubled marriage, or tension and stress at work. Unfortunately, fear is part of what it means to be human—at least in the world as we experience it now.
But God offers a different way. Permeating the Bible from beginning to end is something called hope. It’s mentioned all over Scripture, and particularly in the last few chapters of Acts as Paul appears as a defendant before various councils and rulers.
Notice especially the bold-faced type in the passages below:
- Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, . . . It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” – Acts 23:6
- But this I confess to you that . . . I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. – Acts 24:14-15
- And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, . . . And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? – Acts 26:6-8
- For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you . . . since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain. – Acts 28:20
Notice that Paul connects hope with the resurrection of the dead. In other words, the hope that we have is that this world isn’t all there is. Because Jesus was raised, we know there’s a coming resurrection where God will make all things right. That changes us.
YOLO—“You Only Live Once”—is, perhaps, a catchy motto, but it’s not the way we live. And knowing we will always live gives us a kind of peace and confidence that comes when we know that God created us for something more.
- How can our class pray for you or a friend or loved one tonight?
Start Reading (read Acts 28:17-20)
- What questions or observations do you have from reading the text? What’s one thing you remember from the sermon?
- What’s going on in Paul’s life during the last eight chapters of Acts?
- How does the Christian’s hope relate to the resurrection of Christ and to our future resurrection?
- When Paul talked about “the coming judgment” to Felix, the ruler “was alarmed” and told Paul to leave (Acts 24:25). When Paul talked about the coming of Christ to the Christians at Thessalonica, he told them to “encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Discuss the difference.
- Can you think of a specific challenge or struggle that you’ve faced that was made easier to bear because you believe in a future resurrection?
- Consider two people: One believes in the resurrection, so she believes that this world as we know it is temporary. The other does not believe in any kind of afterlife, so he believes that this world is all there is. How does each face the following? (1) A terminal diagnosis, (2) A catastrophic financial loss, (3) The loss of a loved one, (4) An incredible accomplishment at work.
- How can you look for opportunities to talk to people about your faith in Christ and the certainty of a coming judgment?
- How can you have conversations within your family about how your belief in the resurrection changes your priorities, planning, etc.?
Start Praying (ACTS acronym)
- Adoration: Praise God for raising Christ from the dead.
- Confession: Confess how we sometimes live as if this world is all there is.
- Thanksgiving: Thank God for the world he has prepared for us.
- Supplication: Ask God to help all the members of this class to order their lives in view of the certainty of the coming resurrection and judgment.