Summary: 'The End of The Beginning'. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Acts chapter 28 verses 23-31.
Train story - focus on the wrong thing.
• Then 'War Time Speeches of Winston Churchill'.
• During the second world war November 1942:
• As Hitler's Luftwaffe had invaded English skies,
• Britain was feeling the dread of his enlarging shadow,
• The country was asking the question;
• "How long can they endure the unrelenting darkness of their situation?"
Prime Minister Winston Churchill:
• Needed to answer that question.
• What could he say to give the people hope & courage?
On November 10th, he addressed a worried audience at the Lord Mayor's Day Luncheon:
• Slowly and in his own particular style,
• He spoke these immortal words:
"Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning".
How appropriately these lines fit the final verses of the book of Acts:
• We have recorded, the church's beginning,
• With its setbacks and struggles,
• And in chapter 28 it is ending,
• But by no means has the story ended, just the record of Dr Luke.
• So it truly is 'the end of the beginning'.
And today we and many other Christians worldwide:
Are fulfilling the words of Jesus, that he spoke in Matthew chapter 16 verse 18b:
"I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it".
We are his church:
• Although Acts chapter 28 is soon to be concluded, Acts 29 is still going on!
• Although by now of course, we are probably chapter 2,000.....
And we are very much still in a wartime situation:
• Facing difficulties & struggles from within,
• Facing the bombs of criticism & ridicule from without.
In fact these last few verses of Acts chapter 28:
• Dr Luke paints for us, a wartime portrait of our Christian battle,
• Sometimes there is victory, often there is defeat,
• But always there is hope,
• Because one day, we SHALL be victors.
By way of quick review:
• Paul's passion, his vision, his desire,
• Has always been to bring the Gospel to Rome.
• After a stormy and extended trip, they arrive at this great city,
• Which is a strategic hub of ancient political activity.
• But things didn't work out as Paul intended (vs 16):
• He was locked up in a small room, under house arrest.
• But as the saying goes: "You can't keep a good man down".
• Or to apply it to Paul: "You can't keep a good preacher quiet".
Although he was under house arrest:
• He quickly got on with his favourite pastime,
• Preaching & teaching.
(1). Declaration of the Gospel:
That meant of course that people had to come to him,
Verse 17 is an illustration of that:
"Three days later Paul called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled".
"They arranged to meet Paul".
"Paul welcomed all who came to see him".
Initially Paul's ministry in Rome:
• Verses 17-22 tell us:
• He had targeted the Jewish people with his message,