Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

October 2, 2022 Preacher: Gareth Franks Series: Acts - The Gospel in Motion

Topic: Christian Living Scripture: Acts 23:12–35

When we can’t see God’s hand at work, we need to trust His heart. Even though we can’t see God’s hand working, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. God in his providence, orders the circumstances and moves all the scenes and characters on the stage to accomplish His will. 

God's name is not used from verse 12 on. Nothing about the Holy Spirit; nothing about salvation; nothing about redemption; nothing about the Messiah; nothing about any miracles. But what we do see clearly here is the providence of God. Providence is where God gets His will done, not by changing the natural, but by using the natural circumstances to accomplish what He wants to.

God had told Paul in v.11 to take courage. Paul was going to learn firsthand, how to trust the sovereignty of God. God in his providence was moving all the players and scenes on the stage to accomplish his will. Our text is divided into 4 scenes:

  1. The Plot (v.12-15)
  2. The Plot Discovered (v.16-22)
  3. The Plot Prevented (v.23-30)
  4. Providential Protection (v.31-33)


Getting Started

  1. What insight, principle, or observation from Sunday’s sermon did you find to be the most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling?
  2. What is providence? Do you have an example or experience of God’s providence in your life?

 Digging Deeper

Read Acts 23:12-35

  1. Why is verse 11, so important in understanding our text?
  2. Read Hebrews 1:3 and Colossians 1:17. What would happen if Jesus were to “let go”?
  3. Read the following verses and identify in the verses what God is governing:                               a. Acts 17:26                                                                                                                                             b. Dan 4:34-35; Ps 22:28                                                                                                                          c. Jeremiah 10:23; Prov. 16:9; Prov. 20:24                                                                                             d. Gen 50:20; Acts 2:23; 1 John 1:5

 The Heart of the Matter

  1. Does trusting God to work sovereignly through his providence mean that we can be passive or do nothing in our actions?
  2. We all face death, disease, and tragedy; we sin, and others sin against us; and the world often looks to be spiralling out of control. How does the knowledge of God’s divine providence help Christians in these seemingly chaotic or tragic situations?
  3. William Cowper, a hymn writer and poet, once wrote, “Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.” What do you think he meant by this?


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