Summary: Paul's life was shaped by the Gospel. Even in the face of an uncertain future and difficulty, he embraced change in life through the power of the Gospel. That is the beauty in the Gospel.
The Beauty in the Gospel
Acts 20: 24-27
Our text today finds the apostle Paul on his way to Jerusalem. He is well aware of the animosity of the Jews toward him, and quite uncertain what his future will hold once he arrives. One would expect him to be very nervous and apprehensive about returning, but Paul has a quiet calmness about him. It is evident that although Paul is unsure what his future holds, he is confident in the one who holds his future.
As he made his way to Jerusalem, Paul called for the elders of Ephesus to meet him in Miletus. He had served the church in Ephesus for about three years and remained fond of those who were there. Before departing for Jerusalem, Paul wanted to speak with the elders one last time. He wanted to share his heart and encourage them in the faith.
As I read this passage, I discovered a man who possessed unshakable confidence in the face of undeniable uncertainty. He refused to allow the difficulties of life to dictate his existence. Paul remained committed to the work he had been called to perform. What allowed Paul to possess such confidence? How did he face his struggles with indisputable peace? Through his own admission we will find that Paul’s life had been shaped by the Gospel. He was able to endure because he was focused on the Gospel.
Clearly we all face adversity in our lives, but few ever realize our commitment to the Gospel is a source of strength and victory. Those who live their lives committed to the Gospel will enjoy a peace that passes all understanding and victory in Christ our Lord. As we examine the various aspects of Paul’s faith, I want to consider: The Beauty in the Gospel.
I. The Confidence Obtained (24) – But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Having spoken of the difficulties he had endured, along with an uncertain future, Paul affirmed the confidence he had obtained while serving the Lord. We discover that:
A. He was Settled (24a) – But none of these things move me. Such faith could not have been found among the world. Paul knew he would likely endure bondage and physical suffering, and yet he refused to be defeated. His life was anchored in Christ through the Gospel. He was settled in his faith and certain the Lord would provide. The difficulties of life would not dictate his commitment to the Lord.
We tend to think of the Gospel being relevant at the moment of conversion and yet fail to see its significance throughout out Christian lives. Having faith like Paul comes from a commitment to the Lord and the Gospel. We too have an Anchor of the soul, one that is steadfast and sure. We can rest in the grace and power of the Lord when enduring the trials of life!
B. He was Surrendered (24b) – neither count I my life dear unto myself. Paul had fully surrendered his life to Christ. He was no longer focused on his goals or aspirations. He was literally living for Jesus. He was determined to go to Jerusalem, and face whatever difficulty it brought, in order to serve the Lord. He was willing to give his life for the cause of Christ. Paul had been transformed by the Gospel.
I will admit this is easy preaching, but hard living. Fully surrendering our lives to the Lord is difficult. It isn’t easy to abandon the desires of the flesh in order to please another. However, that is the beauty of the Gospel. Those who are surrendered to the Lord and His will for their lives can declare like Paul that they no longer live for themselves. Our Lord gave His all for us and He bled and died for our sin. Living victoriously in Christ demands that we give our all in return. Rom.12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
C. He was Steadfast (24c) – so that I might finish my course with joy. Paul was determined to finish his course with joy, regardless of what lay ahead for him. Having read the remainder of Acts we find that Paul would in fact face great adversity in Jerusalem and beyond. I am convinced that he anticipated great difficulty, but he was committed to finishing his work for the Lord, even if that involved suffering and pain. He was pleased to serve the Lord according to His divine will, wherever that led and whatever that would bring. Paul had met the living Christ and he was not afraid of what men could do to him.