S Lewis Johnson on Acts 28:16-31

February 8, 2007

Appreciation to those who have suggested preachers for attention on Workman Watch. Yesterday, I was enjoying one such selection – an expositor by the name of S. Lewis Johnson (Believers Chapel, Dallas Texas). This sermon on Acts 28:16-31 was the concluding sermon in a 29 part series on the life of Paul, and was entitled “The last days of Paul.” Listen in and hear a different style of preaching to your usual favourites.


What was the opening sentence?
We’re turning tonight to Acts 28, as we consider the last days of Paul.

How long was the sermon? 46:51

What was the main point?
God accomplishes his purposes of spreading the gospel despite the interference of man.

What was the sermon structure?
The preacher didn’t give any formal headings at all, but simply outlined the text as follows:
v 16-22: Paul’s 1st interview with the Jews;
v 23-28: Paul’s 2nd interview with the Jews;
v 30-31: Paul’s continuing prison ministry.

Following this, Dr Johnson asked what then happened to Paul? (offering possibilities and probabilities regarding this).

Finally, he summarised Paul in terms of his appearance, personality and doctrinal distinctives.

What illustrations were used?
* A story about Sir David Baird who during the 2nd World War evangelised his prison guards
* American football illustration – “Cowboys must be able to play even when they’re hurt”
* Oscar Wilde: “You’re only young once, but can remain immature indefinitely”

What were the applications?
There was a specific exhortation to know what the OT says about the coming of Christ (as Paul did). There was also an application to preachers, that for all the clarity of Paul’s preaching he saw a mixed response. Generally, the aim was to inspire us to follow Paul’s example in his commitment to the gospel.

What aspects of the preacher’s style did you find helpful?
The preacher’s powers of explanation were excellent. Clearly, there was a deep well of knowledge that Johnson was drawing upon, yet he was able to unpack complicated issues in simple language.

Any constructive criticism?
For all that I learned, it seemed at times evident that the preacher was by occupation a lecturer. For this reason, perhaps, the structure wasn’t so readily accessible, and the application wasn’t always drawn out and driven home.

What will you remember a week from now?
Johnson’s summary of the preaching of Jesus and Paul as “preaching the kingdom through a cross”

What one aspect of Johnson’s preaching will you attempt to take over into your own?
Probably Johnson’s knowledge of the subject matter was most inspirational. Though our job isn’t to impress others with our knowledge or simply spout what we know, nevertheless a good preacher needs to be knowledgeable in the Scriptures. That I might study so hard and long that I could one day have Johnson’s grasp of biblical theology!


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