How do you feel when your plans get messed up? I have to be honest, I don’t handle it well most of the time. I like my schedule and I like my plans. However, I am learning that my plans don’t really matter; it is God’s plan that matters. We may not always understand God’s plan. Truthfully, we may not always like where God’s plan takes us. But His plan is always perfect, and it is always the best for us. Paul had been desiring to go to Rome for some time now, yet he had never been able to make it. However, as we come to the end of the book of Acts, we see Paul finally making it to Rome, not as a free missionary, but rather as a political prisoner. Acts 28:30-31 says, “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who come to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.”
For two whole years Paul is a political prisoner on trumped up charges. Now, at long last Paul has made it to the city he has wanted to go for years; except, he can’t leave the city because he is under house arrest. Why would God allow this? I think we can make the argument for a couple of reasons on why God would allow this. The first reason has to do with the Jews there in Rome. Paul had a routine when he went into a new city. He would go to the Jewish synagogue first to teach the Jews, and then he would go to the Gentiles. It always ended the same, some Jews believed, while others didn’t. Those who didn’t believe stirred up trouble for Paul. Yet, this isn’t the case here in Rome. Paul was able to teach the Jews the Gospel. Some believed and some didn’t. Why did those who didn’t believe try to stir up trouble for Paul this time? Earlier in the chapter we learn that Paul was under guard by a Roman soldier. The Jews couldn’t do anything or incite a riot against Paul, because it would cost them their freedom or maybe even their life. Therefore, we see God once again protecting Paul so that he can carry out his God-given mission. The second reason is the powerful witness of Paul while in chains. All Paul would have to do is recant his profession of faith in Jesus, and the Jews would have dropped the charges against him. Yet, Paul was so convinced of the truth of the Gospel, he risked his personal freedom and his life to tell others. This made Paul’s testimony even more powerful, because he believed the Gospel so much he was willing to risk everything for it. But why does any of this matter to us? We aren’t political prisoners, no one is knocking our doors down to come and arrest us. We aren’t living under the threat of death for the Gospel.
While we may not, we need to remember that there are brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are. But the purpose for you and I is to remind us that whatever God allows, He allows it for a purpose. Paul could have been focused on the fact that his own people turned on him and caused him to get arrested. Paul could have been bitter and angry because his life was constantly in danger. He could have been upset that he didn’t get a speedy trial. Yet, we see Paul focusing on what really matters. Paul spent two years teaching about the kingdom of God and Jesus. Anyone who would listen to Paul was going to hear about those things. Paul wasn’t angry or bitter because he had committed himself and his life to the Lord Jesus. He knew that God was in control. Paul couldn’t control his circumstances in life, but what he could control was his faithfulness to God. An interesting thing happens with Paul in the Bible, he just disappears off the pages of Scripture. We never read of his trial or his death in the Bible. Acts ends with Paul a political prisoner who taught about the kingdom of God for two years. In 2 Timothy, Paul writes that he is ready to be poured out as an offering to God, but we never read if, when, or where this happened. Why? Because Paul isn’t the point of Scripture, Jesus is. We again see as Matt Chandler says, “man goes into the ground, but the mission goes on.” Paul served the Lord Jesus Christ. No doubt he was faithful up to the very end of his life. But the Gospel didn’t stop with Paul. It can’t stop with you or I. We must be faithful in committing ourselves to the Lord, but also committing ourselves to His purpose for our life. And if we invest in others are we are supposed to, the mission will go on long after we are gone. And that is the point of life, that Jesus would be glorified in our life and through our death. Are you fulfilling your purpose? There’s no better time to start if you haven’t already started than right now.
By His grace and for His glory,