Summary: Faithful servants of Jesus Christ like the apostle Paul and those who have followed him over the centuries were obedient to His call to proclaim the gospel despite hardships and opposition. We are to be just as faithful to the LORD in proclaiming the Gospel message as they had been.

At the end of the book of Acts, we find the apostle Paul under house arrest in Rome awaiting a hearing from Caesar at his request. He is about to go before Nero and give an account of his work, teaching, and testimony concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation from sin He provides to all people. This lion of God had spent the better part of three decades travelling throughout most of the vast Roman Empire telling everyone he met about the Lord Jesus. At one time a violent opponent of the fledgling church, which he had seen as a threat to God and the Jewish faith and vowed to destroy, had been stopped and dramatically converted on the road to Damascus by the risen, glorified Lord Jesus Christ. He had chosen this murderous fanatic to be His messenger and to spread the Gospel message in the lands beyond Judea (Acts 1:1-11).

Paul had dealt with numerous hardships of which he wrote about in several of this letters to the churches that he had founded, helped to strengthen, or rebuke all for the sake of the Gospel and to see all people freed from the penalties of sin and eternal death by the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. Over the years he had debated with the Pharisees, had cast out demons, healed the sick, silenced sorcerers, argued before the philosophers of Athens, and had survived being nearly stoned to death by an angry mob outside the city of Lystra. He wrote letters of doctrine, Christian living, and correction to the churches while he often languished in a prison cell not knowing if he would live to see another day, and spent time with young pastors, encouraging and mentoring them concerning the teaching of Scripture, guarding against false teachers, personal and church conduct, and discipline.

Paul had spent years among his fellow Jews persuading them to see that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah and fulfilled the prophecies in the Scriptures, just as the risen Lord Himself had taught to the two men traveling on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-27). The Gospel message that Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-39) resulted in 3,000 Jews hearing about Jesus and were converted as a result. The Gospel remained within the Jewish area until the time of the conversion of the Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts 10. The message of salvation was available to the Gentiles, and it would be Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and others who would commit themselves to spreading the Word to this group. Towards the end of Paul's ministry, the opposition to the Gospel from the Jews was escalating and they were becoming more hostile and argumentative.

Paul declared that he would spend the remainder of his days reaching out to the non-Jewish peoples When you read his letters to the churches, they were all addressed to Gentile cities and individuals (Rome, Corinth. Ephesus, Colossae, Thessalonica, Galatia, Philippi, Philemon, and Timothy).The Gentile world was more open to the Word of God. The generations of Christian elders and pastors who followed afterward witnessed the expansion of Jesus' message spread throughout the Empire and lands beyond the borders to include what are today the nations of Russia, India, Persia, the Balkans, east Asia, and later, the Americas.

The message of salvation in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) has traveled around the world, more so in these final days due to the work of those men and women who were and are dedicated to Jesus. They had brought the Bible and the word of their testimony to places and people who had been in spiritual darkness or imprisoned by ungodly authorities who had initially vowed to prevent the Gospel from entering their lands. Over the centuries, the message has often been blurred and sometimes mishandled by clerics, clerks, and crusaders, but has always been able to come back to the original message of the need for all people to turn away from sin, repent, and to surrender their lives to Christ, and to emphasize that salvation is all of the LORD and not of your own words or works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Before we can understand what salvation means in terms of peace with God, we need to know why we even need to be saved in the first place. The question is, "Saved from what?". The Gospel message makes no sense if we fail to answer that question and what it means in terms of the consequences for anyone who either receives the message with joy and gratitude or rejects it and throws away the only chance one has to escape the wrath of God that is to come upon this world as punishment for our sin, rebellion, and hatred against Him.

We need to come to Jesus for salvation because we are sinners, awash in wicked and reprehensible behavior, and this cannot be denied by anyone. Sin has numerous characteristics such as filthy talk (Proverbs 10:19), a contempt for others (Proverbs 14:21), foolish thinking (Proverbs 24:9), unbelief (Romans 14:23), neglect of opportunities (James 4:17), lawbreaking (1John 3:4), and all manner of unrighteous behavior and speech (1 John 5:17). The Bible says that sin originated in the heart of the archangel Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:11-17) after he and a third of the angels rebelled against God's rule in heaven. Lucifer believed that he should receive praise and honor and rule instead of God. He and the rebellious angels were thrown out of heaven and cast to the earth. Lucifer, now known as Satan (the adversary) used his evil reasoning to cause Adam and Eve to doubt God and rebel against His directives He established in Eden (Genesis 3:5; Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:19).

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