[forthright] Finishing Strong

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Mon, 03 May 2010 20:40:06 -0300
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

The editor will be in the U.S. next week, through mid-
June. Here's his schedule: http://GoSpeak.org


COLUMN: FINAL PHASE

Finishing Strong
  by J. Randal Matheny, editor

Maybe Luke was planning a second volume of church
history, some say. The book of Acts ends with the
apostle Paul waiting to appear before the Roman emperor
to defend his cause. Some find it an unsatisfactory
ending.

   "Paul lived there two whole years in his
   own rented quarters and welcomed all who
   came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of
   God and teaching about the Lord Jesus
   Christ with complete boldness and without
   restriction" (Acts 28:30-31 NET).

In spite of what some see as leaving the reader hanging
in the air, at least three strong truths appear in this
last chapter.

#1. When man closes a door, God opens another one.

The Jews in Rome rejected the message, so Paul turned
to the Gentiles (vv. 24-28). If one group would not
listen, he would find one that would, as indeed he did,
a group in the heart of the empire who came to hear
him.

When one house closes to us, there's always another
next door. When one person refuses the gospel,
somewhere another will receive it. We must remember
that God is preparing people to hear. He wants us to
speak because he has many who will respond. In Corinth
the Lord told Paul that in Acts 18:9-10.

#2. Your limitations are God's opportunities.

Many would have seen a house arrest as a great
limitation to preaching the gospel. But Paul made it
his platform for reaching people. He "welcomed all who
came to him." He had earlier summoned the Jews to his
location (v. 17). If Paul couldn't go to them, he would
have them come to him.

We make a long list of why we can't do evangelism. It
is that very list that God wants to use as his
springboard to getting his gospel before others.
Whatever our limitations we must remember that "God's
message is not imprisoned!" (2 Timothy 2:9).

#3. Man's evil is God's tool for good.

Was it providential that no instructions had come from
the Jews in Jerusalem to those in Rome? (vv. 21-22).
Was it providential that God used the Jews' plans to
kill Paul to place him in the Roman capital with the
ability to preach freely for two years?

God does not create nor inflict evil upon men. But his
power does take man's evil into account and fold it
into his plan for good. This is best seen at the cross
of Christ. But it is often evident in the lives of his
followers as well. What men intend for evil God uses to
produce the good. Remember Romans 8:28?

Last Words

Luke's last words in the book of Acts are about
preaching the gospel, "with complete boldness and
without restriction."

With such truths to remind the people of God who
continue preaching the gospel in the whole world, it
would seem Luke finishes the book in strong fashion,
does he not?

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