Monday, November 19, 2012

Paul Evangelizes in Rome

November 25, 2012 Background Scripture: Acts 28:11 – 31 Lesson Passage: Acts 28:16, 17, 23 – 31 Today there are some who look at evangelism as a nice way to be involved in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ on their own terms. Unlike the work that takes place with a local congregation—such as ushering, singing, and leading various other ministries that take place on the church grounds—evangelism usually takes place away from the local congregation. The absence of the local congregation can afford one the opportunity to work at his own pace and in her own way. Some may see evangelism as a rather carefree way to be involved in ministry. This was not the case for the first century Christian. Evangelism was always on God’s terms and the work was quite hazardous and sometimes fatal. Those who understood this did not volunteer to do the work of evangelism. All of the gospel writers made it clear that evangelism is the will of Christ for the church. This was one of the last instructions Jesus gave prior to his ascension back to Heaven. Jesus did the will of God and before he left he commanded his followers to do the same. God uses all manner of people and circumstances to accomplish His will. The Apostle Paul was a living example of this. Paul was imprisoned in Rome for two years while he awaited trial. During the two years, Paul was permitted to live in a rented house and to freely receive visitors. Three days after his arrival in Rome, Paul called the Jewish leaders together to state his case to them prior to his trial in the Roman court system. Paul assured the Jewish leaders that he had nothing against his people, Israel. The circumstances that led to him being in Rome were caused more by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem than anyone. The Jewish leaders in Rome informed him that they had not received any communications from Jerusalem concerning him. On the other hand, they had heard about Christianity which the Jewish leaders had declared to be a sect. The Jewish leaders’ report was that it was spoken against by Jews in all regions. In spite of their skepticism, they were still willing to give audience to Paul to hear what he had to say concerning Christianity. On the appointed day, they came to hear Paul’s testimony. Luke recorded that Paul expounded on Old Testament scriptures from morning until evening persuading the Jews thereby that Jesus was indeed the fulfillment of the Law and the Messiah of the Prophets. Some of them believed while others did not. Paul considered their response as confirmation of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Israel and the gospel message. Paul warned them that their response meant that the preaching of the gospel would be sent to the Gentiles and the Gentiles would readily receive it. Paul received visitors throughout his two year incarceration in Rome. He used those visitations to teach and preach about Jesus and the kingdom of God. Paul continued to do the work of an evangelist throughout the two years. What many would surmise as house arrest for Paul was merely God’s provision of a mission field for the apostle. Paul could have walked the many streets of Rome and preached the message of the kingdom but that might have caused him to think more highly of his own effort than he should. God’s plan for him worked just the opposite. God gathered people from the outside and brought them to Paul and in that setting the gospel was preached and only God could receive the glory for it. In spite of the circumstances, God enabled Paul to evangelize Rome. Robert C. Hudson November 13, 2012