Summary: LISTEN – for 2,000 years people like Paul have given it ALL up for Christ and His Gospel – Why? That’s what I want us to try to answer today – in a message about divine weapon #2 - The Gospel – the power of God.
The Gospel, The Power Of God
Divine Weapon #2
It was dark, it was cold – he had been in these cramped quarters for quit some time. He wasn’t sure whether it was day or night. Nor was he sure just how long he had been there. Now he had always wanted to come back to this city, but he had hoped it would be under different circumstances.
AND – as Paul struggled to find comfort, while wearing shackles on his hands and feet…occasionally, having to flick off from his body, a crawling creature, whose identity was hidden by the darkness of his prison cell… He thought about his life, where he had been what he had seen, what he had been through.
NOW – Paul knew that before too long the sound of jailers keys and prison bars would break the silence, Paul knew that at any moment the would be coming - to take him to his death. The year was 67 AD, and the apostle Paul after fighting the good fight, after keeping the faith – was in Rome awaiting his death, at the edge of an axe, by the command of Nero. Paul was in prison, and he was about to be executed for one reason and one reason only – preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ…
AND as the torch flickered, Paul wrote his final recorded words. They are found in 2 Timothy. PICTURE – in your mind the great apostle Paul weary, tired, worn out, leaning against the damp walls of a Roman prison…put yourself there… QUESTION - What would your final words be if you were him?
“My life is being given as an offering to God, and the time has come for me to leave this life. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now, a crown is being held for me – crown of being right with God. The Lord, the judge who judges rightly, will give the crown to me on that day – not only to me but to all those who have awaited with love for him to come again….The first time I defended myself, no one helped, everyone left me. May they be forgiven. But the Lord stayed with me and gave me strength so I could tell the Good News to all those who are not Jews. So I was saved from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will save me when anyone tries to hurt me, and he will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. Glory forever and ever be the Lord’s. Amen. The Lord be with your spirit, grace be with you.: 2 Tim 4:6-8,16-18
And perhaps, it was when he wrote those final words, “The Lord be with your spirit, grace be with you” that he heard the soldiers walking, that he saw the flickering torches, perhaps it was then that Paul went so confidently to his death – knowing that the Lord would bring him safely into his heavenly kingdom…
QUESTION – Why would a man give up everything, his position, his career, his possessions, his heritage, his comfort – even his own life to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ…?
Just this past week in our hang time journal I was reminded of how much Paul went through, in order to share the message of Christ…Our reading for this past Wednesday was 2 Corinthians chapter 4. About 3:30 pm I went to the little red bench on the play ground, trying to get my mind focused and renewed…
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of our constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen our bodies. Yes we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus..”
Paul said that because of the message of Christ he was pressed on every side – perplexed – hunted and knocked down – and that he faced the constant danger of death…BUT he didn’t give up, he didn’t quit – he always got back up again, and kept going…
LATER ON – in this same letter Paul says; (LISTEN – as I read these words picture yourself going through all of this)
“Five times I received from the Jews the 40 lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I’ve been in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea and in danger from false brothers, I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have gone without food; I have been cold and naked, besides everything else, I face the daily pressure of my concern for all the churches..” 2 Cor 11:24-28