Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
In our sermon series in Mark, we are not sitting at the foot of the cross. We have reached the event that divides history itself. For on the cross, the penalty of sin was paid and the wrath of the Father was quenched. Our Lord Jesus Christ laid down his life for his precious bride. This week may we reflect in a focused way on the glory of Calvary. Mediate on these words from Isaac Watts:
- When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
- Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
- See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
- Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Also, this week’s devotion is a reflection from Acts 28 on the ministry of Paul while under house arrest.
God bless and I look forward to worshipping with the body of Christ this Lord’s Day!
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Ministry in Rome”
Acts 28:31, “… proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”
As the book of Acts closes, the Apostle Paul is under house arrest is Rome (see Acts 21-28). He would remain there for two years, after which time he was released and continued preaching the gospel until he was again arrested and put to death (2 Tim 4:6-8). Paul’s time of arrest in Rome, however, was certainly not ‘wasted,’ rather it was a time of faithful and fruitful service for the kingdom. There are two texts to note – both of which speak to Paul’s activity during his time of arrest in Rome. First, Luke writes in 28:23, “When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he [Paul] expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.” And again in 28:30-31, “He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” There are a few things to note.
First, Paul preached the kingdom of God. The message of the kingdom of God in Christ was the overarching truth proclaimed by Jesus and his Apostles (see Matt 3:2; 4:17; Luke 10:1-12; 17-20; John 18:36; Acts 1:3, 6-8; Rom 14:17; 1 Cor 4:20; 15:50; Heb 1:8; Rev 11:15). The Kingdom of God came to earth in the Lord Jesus Christ. In his first coming, Christ inaugurated the kingdom. The kingdom to which the prophets of old had looked for centuries has once and for all come in the person and work of the true king, the Lord Jesus Christ. The King has come! Satan has been defeated (Com 2:15; Rev 12:7-12)! And this reality Paul boldly proclaimed till his dying day!
Second, Paul was zealous for the souls of the lost. It was his kinsmen according to the flesh who were leading the charge in Paul’s house arrest in Rome (28:18-19). Yet Paul longs for them to know Christ as the Messiah. Paul’s heart goes to the lost. In fact, his heart goes to the very ones responsible for his present hardship (cf. Rom 9:1-3). It is striking that, for Paul, present hardship does not militate against usefulness in the kingdom. In fact, as Paul writes in Philippians, hardship and trial often serves to further the gospel, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (Phil 1:12-13).
Finally, we observe that the word of God can never be bound. Though Paul is bound, the word of God is not bound (see Phil 1:13-14). Paul says something similar in his final letter, “… [though Paul was] bound with chains as a criminal … the word of God is not bound!” (2 Tim 2:9). God’s word is never bound, rather it is powerful to accomplish its sovereign purpose (Is 55:10-11). Indeed throughout the book of Acts we see the word of God going to the Samaritan, to the Gentiles, and to the ends of the world! Indeed, Paul’s ministry in Rome is a testimony to the faithfulness of God. The word of God has reached the ends of the earth!!
Brothers and sisters, may we be zealous for the lost! May we be zealous for the salvation of those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ! But may our confidence not be in our circumstances or our present situation, rather may our confidence be in the word of God and God’s faithfulness! God’s word is powerful! God’s word is powerful to change hearts and lives! And may our message and our actions be centered upon Christ the King … Christ the king who inaugurated his kingdom in his first coming, and will consummate his kingdom when he returns for his bride!