31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!Acts 28:31
After journeying through Acts, it’s impossible to ignore Paul’s uncompromising endeavours to present and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In a whirlwind of travel, speaking engagements, imprisonment, beatings, and riots, Paul covered the continent and finally made it to Rome. There he preached the gospel in freedom … under house arrest.
Journey to freedom
Paul’s journey was not just geographical, Acts also records Paul’s transformation from…
- Enemy to representative of God
- Persecutor to advocate of the Gospel
- Respect to rejection within Jewish community
- Feared to esteemed within the body of Christ
Was there anyone (other than Christ) who suffered more for the Gospel? And yet, like a Pitbull gnawing at a bone, Paul never let up. He didn’t rest until he had achieved his task of being a light to the Gentiles to the ends of the earth.
Acts is just that–action. It shows how the gospel made it to Rome. We can get a glimpse of the why by looking at the letters he wrote from prison.
Ephesians: reconciliation and unity
Paul learned that being a Pharisee or identifying as a Jew were not prerequisites for adoption into God’s family. Christ’s work on the cross enabled reconciliation for all–to God, each other, and self.
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.Ephesians 2:17-18
Paul knew he was a small part of the greater whole: one God, one body, one Spirit.
Philippians: thankfulness and joy
The Christian fellowship in Philippi became staunch friends and life-long supporters of Paul’s ministry. To encourage them as they faced hostile opposition, Paul shared his personal response to hardship.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.Philippians 4:4-6
From within the midst of genuine relationship with God, Paul was free to receive the gifts he needed and willingly accept hardships for the body of Christ.
Colossians: full and complete
Although Paul had never visited Colossae, he encouraged the new believers to stay grounded in gospel of Christ. And Christ alone. There is nothing else apart from Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.Colossians 2:9-10
Paul learned the secret of contentedness in all things and situations. He was free and completed in Christ.
Philemon: transformed and useful
In his letter to Onesimus Paul explained we are all freed slaves. Through the gift of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit we have been liberated and elevated to brothers and sisters in order to pursue the Father’s glory.
15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you … was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me … both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.Philemon 15-16
Paul understood he was no longer a slave to sin, but free, transformed and purposed.
Transformed and free
Paul was irrevocably changed when he met Living Lord. He was…
- Reconciled with the Father
- Baptised with the power of the Holy Spirit
- Impassioned to take the gospel to the Gentiles
- Freed to suffer for the love of his Saviour
Paul’s journey through Acts demonstrates the transformative love of God results in freedom to love, desire to serve and a willingness to suffer.
I am not Paul. I am a middle-aged writer living in Australia in the 21st century. How do I relate to this?
I’d hoped journeying through Acts would help me navigate my way into this year as I sought a way to be real:
However, I have learned much more. Like Paul I am a unique creation of the Creator, baptised with/in the Holy Spirit, full of His Holy Spirit super-power, purposed to be a light with my 4D fingerprints.
But isn’t this a fundamental truth of the Christian Life?
After studying Acts, I feel I am being challenged, rather than seek specifics, to actively pursue the …
The transformative love of God so that I am free to love, have a desire to serve and a willingness to suffer.
- Do you believe suffering and freedom are connected?
- Do you think a loving God would ask his children to suffer?