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From Melita to Rome (26 of 26)
Series: The Acts of the Apostles
TEXT: Acts 28:1-31
INTRODUCTION: In tonight's lesson, we find Paul shipwrecked on the Island of Melita. Along with the crew and all the soldiers, as promised, God bought them safely to shore--276 souls in all.
I would like for us to look at three things:
I. Paul's Experience on Melita
II. Paul's Witness in Rome
I. PAUL'S EXPERIENCE ON MELITA (VV. 1-15)
A. Bitten by a Viper (vv. 1-6)
1. As Paul was placing some sticks on the fire, the Bible says, "...there came a viper out of the heat and fastened on his hand." I think I would have dropped dead right there on the spot. But not Paul, God had a reason for allowing him to be bitten by the snake. You will remember in Mark 16:18, Jesus said of the disciples, "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."
a. There have been many foolish religions
formed around the idea of "snake handling," that somehow making serpents part of worship is a fulfillment of this prophecy. You tend to find these churches in the Eastern part of the United States, mostly in the Appalachians. There numbers are few and their congregations small. When someone is bitten by a serpent, he becomes very sick, or in many cases, simply dies from the poison.
b. This comes from a misunderstanding of
Scripture, for God never intended to make snake handling a part of worship. This special power was given only to the early church in order to authenticate and validate the gospel. Hebrews 2:4 says, "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will." Keep in mind; the same snake handlers today cannot drink arsenic or any other kind of deadly poison and live. Jesus said, "...and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt ...
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