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To the Ends of the Earth

Mission: Unstoppable  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Paul finally arrives in Rome and is under house arrest for his faith, yet he is able to preach and teach unhindered by many outside forces. The book of Acts gives us a blueprint for faithful obedience in many aspects of our life and the life of the church. It's not a method or program, but a way of life that permeates our soul and overflows into others.

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Every story must have a conclusion. Or so it would seem. As we read the closing chapters of the book of Acts, this does not seem the case though. Over the last several weeks we have ventured on a journey. We have walked in the footsteps of the early church. from a fledgling movement to a powerful unstoppable force for God.
As we enter the last couple of chapters in the book, we know this is not the end of the story. The story continues today. You and I are a part of an unfolding story that will culminate in the return of Jesus some day.
It has been said that the memory of a person will die out after about four generations. While there are some very extraordinary exceptions to that saying, it is true for the most part. Names come to mind like Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, or even John Calvin. These men paved the way for us theologically, but ultimately, you and I would not be sitting here were it not for a handful of brave people that endure many trials and tribulations to make sure the story about Jesus spread.
We can, to a certain extent, give credit for our spiritual existence to one man named Paul, and we see his story start to wind down in the last two chapters.
When we last left Paul, he was being held prisoner for his faith. He wasn’t being held as a political prisoner, but he was being held because a group of Jews were so adamantly against his teaching that they pushed the government to have him arrested and detained in order to slow him down. Before Paul is shipped off to Rome because he had appealed his case to Caesar, we read that had he not done that, he could have been set free, but I believer had he been set free, the Sanhedrin would have killed him.
In chapter 27, Paul begins his journey that will take him to Rome and before Caesar, yet God will see to it that he will be able to preach the gospel in some way, shape, or form. Paul is put on a ship bound for Rome under guard of centurion named Julius. This man treated Paul kindly ( probably because he wasn’t really considered a threat to Roman national security) and allowed him the freedom to go see his friends when they had a layover on the way. The journey was not an easy journey for the group, and on first glance it would seem like things were happening that were hindering them from getting to Rome.
As the journey progresses, the calendar also progresses, and they find that winter is rapidly approaching, so they start looking for a place to sit the winter out. During this part of the journey, they find themselves in the middle of a storm that threatens the ship and the life of the crew and passengers. As the storm gets worse, the crew starts throwing the cargo overboard and attempting to find a safe place to sit out the storm. As they are trying to run aground somewhere they ship gets caught on reef and starts breaking apart. As this is happening the Romans come up with the plan to kill all the prisoners, but Paul assures them that no body will die on this journey, and they find themselves stranded on the island of Malta.
While on Malta, Paul is gathering up fire wood and is bitten by a snake, and the natives are watching him to see if he dies, and when he just shakes the snake off into the fire and doesn’t die, the natives decide that he must be a god of some sort. Paul comes in contact with the chief of the tribe and heals the chief’s father, and this opened the door for more healings to occur while he was there.
Finally, Paul arrives in Rome, and Paul is allowed to stay at a rental apartment under the protection of one guard. Paul is basically under house arrest as he awaits his hearing before Caesar, and while he is waiting, he meets with the Jewish leaders in Rome, and Paul tells them why he is being held captive by the Roman authorities, and the Jewish leaders basically say they had heard nothing of his story form anyone from Judea, and the Jews in Rome entertained his discussion and teachings about the Messiah.
Al the time Paul was under house arrest, people were allowed to come and see him freely and he spent much time discussing with the Jews at length his beliefs and scriptural justifications for Jesus being the Messiah, and as Paul had already experienced with his teaching among the Jews, some believed and others disagreed with him.
Luke closes out his second part to his Gospel in chapter 28 verses 30 and 31:
Acts 28:30–31 ESV
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.
Even though Paul was under arrest, he paid his own expenses while he was living there waiting to be heard by Caesar. Paul welcomed all that came to visit with him. This was his driving force in all of his preaching and teaching that God made no distinction. One of the recurring statements that Paul makes in his letters is that God shows no partiality (cf. ; , , and ). Paul took this very seriously. If salvation was made available to all people he was going to see to it that all people heard the gospel.
When people came to visit him, he made sure to proclaim the gospel to them. The word for proclaim here means “to herald.” The idea that gives us is the paperboy standing on the sidewalk yelling, “Extra, extra read all about it!” That’s the proclamation of the gospel. That proclamation requires boldness. The early church prayed for boldness in Acts chapter four as persecution was heating up against the believers.
Paul’s message had substance. He was proclaiming the “kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ.” John the baptist proclaimed a similar message.
Matthew 3:2 ESV
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Jesus was here on earth and the kingdom of God had come to all humanity in Jesus Christ. This teaching set the pace for everything to follow, especially after the ascension of Jesus. This is the message that the Apostles were going to carry to the world, and it is the very same message that we are commissioned to carry today.
The last part of verse 31 says he was preaching “with all boldness and without hindrance.” This carries a profound implication for us today. Paul may have been under house arrest, yet in spite of his limited ability to travel, he was still proclaiming the gospel will all boldness, and his teaching was not hindered in any way. This lies in obedience. If we act in obedience, there may be times we hit speed bumps, but if we remain obedient to the commission we have been give, we can be bold in the knowledge that God will pave the way for us to get the message out.
What the book of Acts means for us today:
This is a 2,000 year-old story. It is a story of triumph, failure, progress and hindrance. When the gospel moves forward, Satan reacts in any way possible to hinder that forward progress. I submit to you today, that if we follow the pattern set forth in the book of Acts and the pattern set forth by Jesus in His life and ministry that the modern church can be just as unstoppable as the early church. If we keep our focus on these four points, we can leave a system of discipleship for future generations to follow and leave a lasting legacy for those generations.

The Caribbean Baptist Church “S-factor”

I have managed to boil down what discipleship looks like for the modern church and what it looks like in our context to four very strong and memorable points, and I believe that if we use this patter as set forth in scripture, it will create a system that will ensure a future for this church and other churches that sprout off of this church body. I call it the “S-factor,” and it is based on the following statement:

As a church body, we will SEEK out those that do not have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and SHARE the gospel with them in order to bring them into a life-changing, eternity-altering relationship with God. We will then SHAPE those believers by equipping them with the tools they need in order for their lives to be transformed by the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As they mature, we will strive to SEND them back out into the world equipped for ministries of their own in order to perpetuate the mission given to the church by Jesus.

SEEK out those that do not have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ

Luke 19:10 ESV
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
God stepped out of His heaven and came to live among us. God came to us and put on a coat of flesh and lived among His creation. As Jesus ministered to the masses, He associated with the “less desirables” of the community. Jesus was known as a “friend of tax collectors and sinners” (cf. ). I believe that His church should also be know as the very same friend. Jesus never shied away from reaching out to those in the community who were seen as not socially acceptable, and He left his church here in this world to do the very same thing.
Jesus never stayed in one place very long during His earthly ministry, and we have a very large community out here. The only way a community will know the church that is in its community is if it is known by its community. It should be the intent of this church body to leave a lasting impression in this community. When we ask the question, “if the church were to close today, would the community even notice?” we must take a stand today to make that answer a resounding, “Yes!” If this church were to close up shop, we want to be in a position that the community would notice that something is missing. The only way this can be done is by getting out into the community and seeking those that don’t have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Once we reach those that don’t know Jesus, we must share the gospel with them.

SHARE the gospel with them in order to bring them into a life-changing, eternity-altering relationship with God.

Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The gospel is powerful in and of itself. It is not OUR job to change live. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. Our only mission is to be a witness of the power of the gospel in a person’s life.Some people will accept this message, other will not. Some will take longer than others, but we must key on the fact that we are WITNESSES. Being a witness goes beyond sharing a few verses of scripture or helping some pray a simple prayer. Being a witness is being bale to testify and show the power of the gospel in a person’s life. That can only come from a personal testimony on how the gospel has changed your life. When we can do that, people will listen, and they will take notice. That is what has the most power in the gospel. Once we help bring them to that relationship, then our purpose becomes to shape them into what they are to become within the church body.

SHAPE believers by equipping them with the tools they need in order for their lives to be transformed by the gospel.

Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Disciple-making can be a messy process. It involves dealing with people’s mess. It may not be something we like, but it can be very rewarding. Jesus spent time with twelve men. Paul spent time with men in his life that he raised up as he went along his journeys. This is the heart of discipleship. As we go through life, we go through it with other people. This isn’t just our spouse of our closest friends. This involves getting to know other young Christians, and bring them to a maturity level that they can begin to share their faith with others. We must be willing to come alongside others and being willing to share our struggles with them and they with us in order for people to grow. This is what shapes people. It is about them learning what God’s purpose for their life is. God has a purpose for each and every one of us, and it is up to us to help other find their calling in life. Once we do that and equip them with the tools and resources they need in order to minister effectively, we then send them out for the work of the ministry.

SEND those believers back out into the world equipped for ministries of their own in order to perpetuate the mission given to the Church.

John 20:21 ESV
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
This is what perpetuates the church body. Sending is the only way the global church will grow. We talk about mission-minded churches, but what does that really mean? Being “on mission” entails a lot of things. It can range anywhere from starting a small group to being an international missionary. The possibilities are endless. Focusing on the end result of raising up a new generation of leaders within the church that will be unstoppable. The goal of any church should be multiplication and not just addition. Multiplication entails raising up members within the body to fully-functioning disciple-makers that are sent out to make other disciples.
How does this work? It’s simple math. If a church that has 35 average attendance each Sunday gains five new members over the course of a ten-year period, after that time, there will be 85 members in attendance. Now, let’s take the very same church of 35 and put the multiplication to it: In the first year, let’s half of the regular attenders take one person and pur all of their knowledge and experience into that one person, by the end of year one the church has gained 18 new members for a new attendance total of 53. If this rule apples for the following nine years, the church’s attendance would grow to 2,018 members. This is the principle the Jesus operated on, and this is the very same principle that the apostles operated on. This is the key to the survival of the the modern church.
What did the early church have at its disposal that we don’t have today? Absolutely nothing. They thrived on the power of the Holy Spirit. The early church laid the foundation for the church that will help it to continue to grow long into the future.
Acts 2:42 ESV
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2.
They devoted themselves to the foundational principles that will support and drive any church until the day Jesus comes back. All we have to do is answer the call and get back to the basics of church life.
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