Since June of 2009 for one and a half years, I’ve been preaching from Acts and finally we have come to the end. Actually if you include since the time we started the first book that Luke wrote, the Gospel of Luke then we’ve been studying what Luke wrote for 3 and a half years. The last ties everything together so today let’s once more look at what sharing the Gospel is.
Beginning with the birth of the church Acts gives in a large scale a picture of the first church, but ends without much spark. This ending is so plain, that many theories have been given as to why the book ends here. For example, when Luke got to
this point there was something that happened that prevented him from continuing. Possibly Luke planned to write the rest in a 3rd book, but he died. Possibly he actually wrote the 3rd. book, but it got lost. Etc.
However, just because a book didn’t end the way the reader wanted it to doesn’t mean that it is necessary to try to speculate on the reason. Rather, we should consider why Luke ended this way. Luke is summarizing everything that he has said. In other words, Peter and Paul and all the people that appeared in Acts preached the kingdom of God Jesus Christ. In today’s passage this is summarized well. Therefore, today let’s at the end of Acts as a conclusion to the whole of Acts and see how Paul shared the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord, Jesus Christ.
I. Like this (vs. 30)
The key to Acts is Acts 1:8. Luke is saying in Acts 1:8 and showing us throughout the book of Acts that the way the kingdom of God is preached and the Lord, Jesus Christ is taught is by the Holy Spirit coming upon us and when that happens then we will receive power. It is definitely not by human power or ability. It is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. People who share the Gospel have an end, but the work of the Holy Spirit has no end. It is eternal. By the work of the Holy Spirit the Gospel was spread from Jerusalem to Judea and Galilee, and to the utmost parts of the earth. Luke who wrote this wanted to tell us that. He had written in the earlier book, in other words, the Gospel of Luke, “about all that Jesus began to do and to teach.” (1:1) In the continuation, Acts, he records the Growth of the God’s work of Jesus who was lifted to heaven, through the Holy Spirit, and through the church. Therefore, the main topic of Acts is not Paul, but our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is not the Acts of the Apostles, but the Acts of the Holy Spirit.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (1:8) This means that the work of Acts is not finished. By the end of the book of Acts there were still places at the ends of the earth that the Gospel had not reached. That is the same today. We are still in the process of reaching the ends of the earth. According to the survey of 2007 in Japan, presently there are over 1,500 cities, towns and villages without a church. In Japan there are still many places that are at the ends of the earth that have not heard the Gospel. By the power of the Holy Spirit we need to share the Gospel in these places. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and we need to be careful to not block the work of the Holy Spirit. We should never use human means, but work in the freedom of the Holy Spirit, and we should endeavor to prepare the way for them to hear Gospel.
Jesus said, “The wind blows where it pleases.” (John3:8) “The wind” is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has personality and likes. The Holy Spirit goes “where it pleases”. There are no Christians who don’t have the Holy Spirit, but that doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit is pleased. Therefore, in Ephesians it says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 4:30). When the Holy Spirit is grieved, we can’t be filled with the Holy Spirit.
“The wind blows where it pleases.” (John3:8) So that the flow is not hindered, let’s seek the Holy Spirit, and walk so that the Holy Spirit is pleased. In that way the kingdom of God will be preached and the Lord, Christ, will be taught.
II. Welcoming those who come to visit (vs. 30)
Here it says, “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.” (30) The 2 years includes the time spent during the proceedings of his release, the whole time that he was under house arrest. According to the Roman law at that time, if the accuser didn’t appear in the court within 18 months, the case would be canceled. Therefore, the reason that Paul was here for 2 years in his own rented house was because the Jewish leaders that had caused such a disturbance and accused Paul, maybe they thought their was disadvantageous, but they didn’t come to Rome and press charges against Paul. Paul won and was not guilty. The Gospel was victorious.
However, even though he was victorious in the courts, these 2 years were for him a very difficult time. To have to spend time in this type of circumstances must have been very tough. However, the Bible doesn’t say it that way. Here it says, he “welcomed all who came to see him.” (30) and “he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus.” (31) The way of evangelizing by welcoming “all who came to see him”. (30) if you consider just words, this seems a little passive, but on the other hand it is using every opportunity to preach the Gospel. In reality at this time Paul was in chains, a prisoner, so he couldn’t go out and freely preach in the Jewish synagogues and squares. However, just because he couldn’t go out he didn’t just sit on his hands. Even in this type of condition he did what he could do. For example, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, many of his letters were written then. Even in this kind of condition, he witnessed in the ways he could. Not only that but in Philippians 1:12-14 he says, ”Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”
Being arrested actually “served to advance the gospel.” (Philippians 1:12) For 2 years the guards watched over him and every time they went back to their office they told everyone about what Paul had said about Christ. Gradually the Gospel was spread from Paul’s guards to the whole palace guard, and “most of the brothers in the Lord” (Philippians 1:14) were given confidence and more and more boldly testified to the Word of God. It was really amazing. Paul used the chances that he was given and did the Lord’s work. Therefore he “welcomed all who came to see him.” (30) was nothing more than the means by which he did so. No matter what came his way, he used it as a chance to evangelize and witnessed.
“Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.” (30) This wasn’t his “own” house. He was still a prisoner with a guard. Therefore he was free, but not free . However, at that rented house, there was God’s blessing. Everyone wants to live in a house with land that they own. However, even if you live in a rented house all of your life a house with the blessings of the kingdom of God is wonderful. A rented house, an old house, a house with an entrance that is guarded, even if there is no freedom, but if there are many people who come to visit and if the kingdom of God is being preached to them, then it is a huge blessing. Whether it is a rented house or a house that has been bought, if those who visit are welcomed and the kingdom of God is shared with them then it is a wonderful privilege.
III. Without hindrance (31)
Finally, let’s look at the fact that Paul preached “boldly and without hindrance.” (31) It was a miracle that Paul was able to preach “boldly and without hindrance.” (31) It we think back through Paul’s evangelism, in Judea, in Asia, and in Europe, there we always some king of barriers. It was continuous barrier and obstacles. Now Paul is in the middle of Rome, which prided the world with its culture, politics, and military strength. Not only that he is a prisoner, but he is able to evangelize. This shows that the Gospel is victorious. This is the last verse of Acts because Luke wanted to say that the Gospel is always victorious.