3/15/15: The Greatest Story Ever Told: ACTS (4)
Dramatically converted after a vision of the risen Jesus, Saul stopped persecuting followers of the Way and immediately began preaching Jesus as the Son of God. Saul (later known as Paul) narrowly escaped death at the hands of the Jews in Damascus and then Jerusalem, then returned to Tarsus before joining Barnabas at Antioch. After a year of fruitful ministry among the believers in that city, Paul and Barnabas were commissioned by the Holy Spirit to take the good news abroad…
During his three extensive missionary journeys, Paul was used mightily by the Spirit. On Sunday the 12:13 class learned about some of the highlights from these trips…
The crowds in Lystra sought to worship Paul and Barnabas after they healed a lame man. The apostles had to restrain them from offering sacrifices. But then hostile Jews showed up and turned the crowd against them. Paul was stoned by the angry mob and left for dead outside the gates. But Paul got up, walked back into town, and continued his missionary journey. The gospel is unstoppable!
The city rulers in Philippi beat Paul and Silas with rods for causing a disturbance and then threw them in jail. (Their crime? Casting a demon out of a slave girl.) At midnight they were giving thanks to God and singing hymns when an earthquake broke open the doors and burst their bonds. When the jailer saw that the prisoners were free, he was about to commit suicide — but Paul stopped him. Instead, the man received the gift of salvation and was baptized that night along with the rest of his household. The next morning the city rulers had to apologize for beating and imprisoning Roman citizens without a trial and then personally escorted Paul and Silas out of the city. The gospel is unstoppable!
In Ephesus Paul ministered so effectively for two years that the word of God spread throughout Asia. As people converted from pagan worship to Christianity, the craftsmen who sold images of Artemis and her world-famous temple began losing money. One of them, a silversmith named Demetrius, stirred up a riot. For two hours the Ephesians chanted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” It was a powerless boast. Artemis and her temple were the work of man’s hands, no match for the sovereign God. The gospel is unstoppable!
Paul made his last journey as a prisoner from Jerusalem to Rome. Murderous Jews failed to assassinate him. The Roman governor in Caesarea failed to manipulate him. A violent storm failed to drown him. A poison serpent on the island of Malta failed to harm him. And when he finally arrived in the capitol of the mighty Roman empire, Paul the prisoner was given great freedom to preach and teach about Jesus. There is only one way to explain these remarkable events…THE GOSPEL IS UNSTOPPABLE!
What an inspiration it has been to study this remarkable book of Scripture. I pray that our 4 weeks in the Book of Acts have provoked each student in the 12:13 class to play his or her role in the Mission:Unstoppable!