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“No weapon formed”
Small Group Questions
Describe a time when you went through a horrible situation but still had the joy of the Lord?
What actions do you take to combat fear, depression, sickness, the feeling of abandonment, disappointment, and affliction?
In what ways have you died to yourself as a Christian?
What is an area of your life you need to be less selfish in and give over to God?
Lots of studies on this portion of Scripture and all agree that the length of this narrative seems out of proportion to its value.
What then is the lesson we can learn from it?
First, it illustrates the providence of God
In bringing Paul safely to Rome circumstances seemed to make this impossible.
Acts 23:11 New King James Version (NKJV)
11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, [a]“Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
Paul expresses his intention to head straight to Rome from Jerusalem, yet he was arrested in Jerusalem, subjected to endless trials, imprisoned in Caesarea, threatened with assassination, nearly drowned in the Mediterranean, nearly killed by soldiers and bitten by a snake (as we shall soon see). Each incident seemed to be designed to keep him from his God-planned destination. Since Luke concentrates on the storm, remember that the sea in OT represents evil powers in opposition to God. It was not the forces of nature, (water, wind and snake) or the schemes and plans of man which were arrayed against Paul, but the demonic forces at work through them.
Scripture is full of examples of the devil seeking to thwart God’s saving purpose through his people and His Christ. He tried through Pharaoh to drown baby Moses, through Haman to annihilate the Jews, through Herod the Great to destroy the infant Jesus in Bethlehem, and through the Sanhedrin to stifle the Apostolic witness and smother the church at its birth. And now the storm at sea attempted to stop Paul bringing his gospel to Rome, “Paul, you must stand trial before Caesar”
But God obstructed the enemy’s plan and kept him from his purpose. Luke lets us in on the excitement of his story by letting us into his secret, mainly that Paul in advance would reach Rome. We know from the beginning that he will get there. But as the narrative proceeds and the storm becomes more violent, until all hope is lost, we wonder how on earth he will be rescued. Will he make it? Yes, God said He would and no weapon of the enemy would or could stop him.
No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.
What does this mean to you?
Security and final victory are the heritage of each faithful servant of the Lord. The righteousness by which we are justified, and the grace by which we are sanctified, are the gift of God, and the effect of his special love.
There will be weapons formed- Scripture declares it, we have a common enemy that seeks to devour you, deceive you, lie to you, twist God’s Word. The enemy comes to steal kill and destroy, and we are not immune to his tactics—look at the life of Job, everything gone in a day. He can destroy everything you own, kill every person you love, slander your good name and lie about you; but he cannot touch your faith in God. His weapons cannot steal your salvation. They cannot rob you of your joy and peace.
A weapon only has as much power as you allow it in your life. It cannot stop me from obeying God’s Word. It can’t stop me from reading and studying the Word of God. That weapon has no power over my prayers, for at anytime I can drop on my knees and bow down before His throne. Satan has no power over God’s hearing. The enemy cannot steal the Spirit living inside me.
We are secure in His hands. We can trust Him with our heart. We can put on the mind of Christ. We have access to His wisdom and His strength. We are His righteousness and we walk in white.
And as long as I live here on this earth and there is breath in my lungs, the enemy cannot stop me from preaching the Word of God.
The enemy’s weapon cannot take my final victory over death, for I will be raised with Him in immortality and will declare one day, “O death! Where is your sting?”
God has a plan, individually and collectively as a church to prevail over the enemy and this world.
Stay on the boat!
Acts 27:31 New King James Version (NKJV)
31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”
I do not believe in predestination as Calvin taught, but I do believe that there is a church, a collective group of believers that have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:29-30 New King James Version (NKJV)
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Foreknowledge means that God purposed from eternity to love and redeem the human race through Christ. The recipient of God’s forelove is stated in the plural and refers to the church. God’s foreknowledge then is primarily for the corporate body of Christ and individuals as they identify with the corporate Body through abiding faith and union with Christ.- this is referred to as election. We see God’s choosing of a man for a particular mission, but salvation is always in relation to a people. The corporate body will attain to glorification– this is God’s plan and it cannot be thwarted.
This church is an ark, if you will, a ship that is destined for heaven. Jesus is our Captain. You cannot thwart God’s plans for the ship, God will bring her safely to her destination, “some on boards, some on broken pieces of the ship”- but you can choose to stay on until the end or jump off and suffer the consequences.
As with all things of God, the promises of God are conditioned upon our obedience to His will- stay on the boat.
Matthew 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
So then God has predestined or purposed that those in Christ are: justified, glorified, conformed to Christ, blameless, adopted, redeemed, recipients of an inheritance, the praise of His glory, recipients of the Holy Spirit, created to do good works AND NO WEAPON can stand against God’s purpose!
IF God has said it, HE will perform it.
Second, Paul’s witness was enriched
The last five years, Paul was primarily inactive- two years in Caesarean prison, two under house arrest in Rome, 6 months between voyaging. Were these wasted years? No, his prison letters (three main ones to the Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians) breathe an air of joy, peace, patience and contentment because he believed in the sovereignty of God and as a result he left an even richer spiritual legacy which Paul neither knew or understood. But we do. It was through his confinement that his eyes were opened to see the victory of Christ and the fullness of life, power and freedom.
And now his witness to all those traveling with him on this wrecked ship.
Your life is a witness, every day how you live, act speak- you are giving witness to the nature that you have given yourself over to, either to the nature of the flesh which yields corruption, or the nature of the Spirit.
Ex: my daughter and I went on a bike ride and she asked me a question, “Mom how do always stay so positive?”
I am so thankful that is what I am displaying to my children.
Isaiah 54:11-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
11 “O you afflicted one, Tossed with tempest, and not comforted, Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, And lay your foundations with sapphires. 12 I will make your pinnacles of rubies, Your gates of crystal,
And all your walls of precious stones. 13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children.
Here the Lord comforts His people who are experiencing affliction and adversity. When we are weighed down by the trials and shaken by the tempests of life’s circumstances, we will find out what we are made of and our witness will be laid bare.
Proverbs 24:10 New King James Version (NKJV)
10 If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.
You have to examine yourself and ask, “who am I trusting in?” One cannot be deemed an “overcomer” unless there is some adversity to overcome. You cannot be a conqueror unless there is something we are meant to conquer. Triumphant is a meaningless word unless you are facing a setback.
What is your life witnessing to those inside and outside your home?
Where is your strength found? For the Lord gives strength unto His people!
Are you about to faint?
Isaiah 40:29 New King James Version (NKJV)
29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Are you feeling weak?
2 Corinthians 12:9 New King James Version (NKJV)
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Do you feel abandoned and forsaken?
2 Timothy 4:16-18 New King James Version (NKJV)
16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them
17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
Are you going through affliction of sickness?
Psalm 41:3 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
3 The Lord will sustain, refresh, and strengthen him on his bed of languishing; all his bed You [O Lord] will turn, change, and transform in his illness.
Afflicted by fear??
In and through ALL things- the Lord is the strength of my life!
Psalm 27:1 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
1 The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
Third, his ministry was authenticated by his sufferings.
Nothing proves the sincerity of our beliefs like our willingness to suffer for them. So Paul had to suffer, and be seen to suffer, for the gospel he was preaching.
We see in the life of the prophet Isaiah that the servant who brings light to the nations must suffer, the vocations to serve and suffer are intertwined, the witness and the martyr are one, and the seed which multiplies is the seed which dies.
1 Corinthians 15:36 New King James Version (NKJV)
36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.
Scripture declares it time and time again, the call of the Christian is to suffer with Christ.
You must die to yourself, your ways, your idols, your selfishness. THIS is what is killing the Christian.
Where did you pick up the idea that your life would be a constant upward trajectory in all things? That if you served God you would never have to struggle or face resistance and your life would be a nonstop ride to success and abundance?
There are seasons of gain and seasons of loss. Paul said,
Philippians 4:12-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 I know how to [a]be abased, and I know how to [b]abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through [c]Christ who strengthens me.
You will face obstacles, but will you be content in the midst of the challenge?
Have you purposed to overcome all setbacks and trials in His strength?
Will you be faithful in adversity?
Will you be used by God to demonstrate His strength to others?
Or will you allow disappointed and discouragement to discomfit you?
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