There Are No Accidents With God
The Advance Of The Gospel
There Are no Accidents with God
The Praetorian Guard were the Imperial Guard of Rome. They had been set up by Augustus and were a body of 10,000 select troops. Augustus had kept them dispersed throughout Rome and the neighbouring towns. Tiberius had concentrated them in Rome in a specially built and fortiﬁed camp. Vitellius had increased their number to 16,000. They served for twelve, and later for sixteen, years. At the close of their term of service, they received the citizenship and a ﬁnancial payment. Latterly, they became very nearly the emperor’s private bodyguard; and in the end they became a signiﬁcant problem. They were concentrated in Rome, and there came a time when the Praetorian Guard became nothing less than king-makers; for inevitably it was their nominee who was made emperor every time, since they could impose their will by force, if need be, upon the people. It was to the Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, their commanding ofﬁcer, that Paul was handed over when he arrived in Rome.
The situation was this. Paul had been delivered to the captain of the Praetorian Guard, to await trial before the emperor. He had been allowed to arrange a private lodging for himself; but night and day in that private lodging there was a soldier to guard him, a soldier to whom he was chained by his halusis all the time.
14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
All that mattered was that Christ was preached. All too often, we resent it when someone else gains some distinction or credit which we do not. All too often, we regard someone as an enemy simply for expressing some criticism of us or of our methods. All too often, we think people can do no good because they do not do things in our way. All too often, the intellectuals have no time for the evangelicals, and the evangelicals question the faith of the intellectuals. All too often, those who believe in the evangelism of education have no use for the evangelism of decision, and those who practise the evangelism of decision have no use for those who feel that some other approach will have more lasting effects. Paul is the great example. He lifted the matter beyond all personalities; all that mattered was that Christ was preached.
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.
19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below—
blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will become dark,
and the moon will turn blood red
before that great and glorious day of the LORD arrives.
21 But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD
will be saved.’
22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. 25 King David said this about him:
‘I see that the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
26 No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.
27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
28 You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’